Mike Levy eyes big media to back OPEN Sports, which goes out of beta this fall
It's a nice surprise to bump into a veteran Internet entrepreneur who's back in the arena again to innovate in a field he's already had success in.
Mike Levy started CBS SportsLine back in 1994. Since I began covering Internet companies at my former employer MarketWatch back in 1999, I followed his rise and exit. Here's an interview about the convoluted and rocky relationship SportsLine had with CBS.
In 1998, Levy was on the cover of a Forbes magazine titled "Masters of the new universe." Among that class of Internet entrepreneurs who received that recognition (and were on the front page) were Yahoo's Jerry Yang, Amazon's Jeff Bezo, CNet's Halsey Minor, Onsale's Jerry Kaplan and USWeb's Joe Firmage. A lot of these men (no women were selected), have moved on to other ventures. So did Levy.
After selling SportsLine to Viacom, which already owned 38%, in 2004, Levy retired.
"By next fall, we’ll have the best site out there," he predicted, suggesting SportsLine has failed to innovate and few contenders really stand in his way. Levy and I bumped into each other at the AlwaysOn OnMedia conference, held in Manhattan last week.
How is this different from SportsLine? I asked.
"Fantasy content will be tremendously better," he said. "It’s an open-network designed to promote user input, RSS feeds. We’ll create open APIs. We’re opening the world of sports to the user."
Levy plans to take a page from his own playbook by leveraging big media. With SportsLine, Levy found CBS to back him up. This time around, Levy is setting his sights on other traditional media companies with little traction in online sports. "There’s opportunity to work with other networks besides CBS and ESPN," he said.
The other networks have fallen behind in online sports, he added. “I think they’re starting they’ll realize that."
Levy said he's in the market to raise another $10 million in funds. Will he find a strategic investor in the big media outlets? I asked. He'll definitely give it a shot, he suggested.
“I’m confident a deal will take place.”
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OPEN Sports Network (www.fantasylive.com), a premier producer of leading fantasy sports applications and official partner of FOXSports.com on MSN, is introducing two highly anticipated next-generation fantasy football games: Fantasy Live® Challenge and Fast Draft® Challenge. These exciting new fantasy products are being unveiled today by Mike Levy, founder and former CEO of SportsLine.com (now CBSSports.com).
Once sports fans are done drafting their season long fantasy football teams, they will be compelled to try these two exciting products that will completely transform the way they play fantasy football. Fantasy football players looking for competitive action each and every week – where they no longer have to wait through an entire season to win their fantasy league – will absolutely love these games.
Fantasy Live Challenge - Real-Time. Fantasy. Sports. This is the first-ever live substitution fantasy football game where users make unlimited, real-time roster changes - while games are in progress – during the 1:00pm ET NFL games. Fantasy knowledge combined with fast reaction time will reward users with cash prizes. All Fantasy Live Challenge games run in twenty minutes, so users have multiple chances to win every Sunday afternoon. Check it out for yourself and create or join a Fantasy Live Challenge group today! Check out our video for more about Fantasy Live Challenge | Watch Video (http://www.fantasylive.com/opinion/article/Fantasy-Live-Challenge-strategy-tips)
Fast Draft Challenge - Fast. Cash. Fantasy Games.™ This is a weekly commissioner type game for players who want action every week – and a chance to win cash – without the hard work of managing the same team all season long, especially if that team is losing. Have a live online draft on Friday with your buddies and go heads up on Sunday. Playing is simple. Users manage a team of seven players in a single week of NFL games. They assemble their team either through a live online draft or a salary cap structure. Score the most points and they could win a cash prize. With numerous options for style of play, size, price and prize, users can find a challenge that’s right for them. Get started today and create or join a Fast Draft Challenge group!