It’s almost a national emergency when Gmail goes down. People take to Twitter to question what is wrong with Facebook when it takes too long to load. Popular websites crashing is part of our new social/digital lifestyle, and Yahoo! Sports is now the latest victim. Recently, Yahoo! servers crashed, creating confusion among fantasy football owners across the country.
The real problem is the timing. The third Sunday of preseason is generally the busiest time for fantasy drafts. The weekend is winding down, the dress rehearsal preseason games are done, depth charts are nearly set. With the NFL starting the first Thursday after Labor Day, the Sunday before the holiday is one of the most popular days for drafts.
And draft day is the most important day of fantasy football because most of the business has been built around the draft. Draft kits, league upgrades and premium features, most add-ons, are all incremental income likely to be received before or on draft day. When the service crashes, it does not create a sense of confidence in the ancillary business.
Yahoo! followed up its crash with a short email apology that probably doesn’t cut it for most fantasy players. A league I am involved in is now actively looking for another service to use for fantasy football. It’s not something Yahoo! can just overlook. The landscape it used to dominate is getting more and more crowded. Fans expect the service to work from draft day until the end of the fantasy season. When it doesn’t work smoothly, real fantasy fanatics probably aren’t willing to listen to excuses.
As fantasy football continues to develop as a business, there will be other options for the customer such as: live drafts, destination drafts, different sites that can be used to keep track of teams and competitions, and increased games and services. One thing companies can’t have is a bad reputation. This marks the second time Yahoo! has crashed. Given the public’s latest reaction, Yahoo! should be hoping there isn’t a third.
Michael Colangelo is Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute and Senior Editor of The Fields of Green.