There are a few companies looking to bid for Yahoo!. Right now it seems as if Verizon is the front-runner, but even if Yahoo! was fully purchased by Verizon, there’s no guarantee the telecom giant would keep every piece of the tech company. For the sports world, this means that if a company wants to get involved with digital distribution rights, sports coverage and fantasy sports, a bid on Yahoo! — or parts of Yahoo! if Verizon or whatever company wins the bid is fine with selling off — is an easy way into sports media space.
Yahoo! has a strong sports portfolio led by its fantasy platform. The company is still one of the leaders in hosting yearly fantasy contests between friends, co-workers and strangers who want to compete in fantasy football, basketball, hockey and baseball. Yahoo! is still involved with the daily fantasy problems facing everyone in the market, but it has an offering and again the market is growing. That is a built-in customer base for any company that wants be involved in the growing fantasy world.
Yahoo! has also been on top of providing sports news, and is building affinity sites with properties such as Adrian Wojnarowski’s The Vertical. The sports website has a deep roster of writers who have strong personalities on social media. Purchasing Yahoo! allows a company that hasn’t covered sports to get involved in the coverage of games and personalities. This is something a company like Verizon just doesn’t have current access to.
Finally — and maybe most importantly — a bid for Yahoo! puts whatever company buys it at the forefront of streaming games. Yahoo! has experience streaming NFL games. That will change this year as Twitter will be streaming NFL games, but the infrastructure is already there. Yahoo! also streams NHL games. If the company that buys Yahoo! wants expertise in digital distribution of sports, it should keep the team on payroll. If that isn’t in their future strategic plans a buyer could quickly surface. After all, many tech companies have been trying to get involved with sports digital distribution.
This all means that a new player will be coming into the sports world. Verizon has some experience working with the NFL as its mobile streaming partner, but it could expand its footprint with a Yahoo! bid. If Verizon doesn’t want to stay in the sports world, it wouldn’t be surprising to see other companies take bits and pieces of Yahoo! sports properties.
Michael Colangelo is Managing Editor of The Fields of Green and Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute.