Interview: Zach Stanley & Star Fantasy Leagues

May 24, 2014
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Fantasy sports leagues are growing ever more popular, so it makes sense to find online businesses that focus on that area of game culture. One of the most successful fantasy league ventures out there is Star Fantasy Leagues, based out of Rochester in the U.S. We spoke to the President and Co-Founder of SFL, Zachary Stanley to find out more…

First off, what made you guys decide on Fantasy leagues as a concept, as opposed to, say, your average betting site?

In 2006, the US Government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Within the act, fantasy sports was outlined as a game of skill and therefore was deemed exempt from any of the laws that applied to gambling.

As passionate fantasy sports fans ourselves, my brother and I felt that there was a void in the types of contests that were being offered around the internet. We had a vision of what the ideal fantasy sports website would look like and we believe that the Star Fantasy Leagues product lives up to the high standards we set from its inception in 2012.

Interview: Zach Stanley & Star Fantasy Leagues
SFL President and Co-Founder Zach Stanley

How popular are fantasy sports leagues in general? In the UK for instance, fantasy soccer leagues are pretty big. Is it the same in the US?

Over 33 million people play fantasy sports in the US and an estimated 3.1 million play in Canada. Over the last five years fantasy sports have had an annual growth of 11.7%, with 47% of players paying league fees. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, fantasy sports players spend an average of $111 on league-related costs over a 12 month period. $1.71 billion is spent on league fees alone.

The growth of fantasy sports abroad is something we are continuously keeping an eye on as sports like soccer and cricket continue to gain fantasy popularity.

Which sports prove most popular for fantasy league players? My first thought would be baseball, which is basically all about stats, but who knows, maybe it’s hockey?

Currently there are an estimated 23.8 million people playing fantasy football with baseball the closest trailer at 12.2 million.

Because we offer daily fantasy contests at Star Fantasy Leagues, both baseball and basketball are very popular. While the player participation for NFL contests is significantly more across the daily industry, baseball and basketball offer players the opportunity to play in contests every day rather than the once a week structure that the NFL schedule dictates. 

Are you into playing fantasy league games yourself?

Despite being CEO of a rapidly growing fantasy sports company, I have managed to remain committed to my inner fanatic. I play in season-long fantasy football every year, participating in several different cash leagues with both friends and strangers.

My love for the daily contests began in the mid-2000s when I was playing in over 500 contests in both NBA and NFL on a weekly basis. Like all of the players gravitating toward these contests, I was drawn to the intrigue of creating a lineup every day and receiving instant results – utilizing some winnings for college expenses doesn’t hurt, either.

Interview: Zach Stanley & Star Fantasy Leagues

What differentiates SFL from other fantasy league sites? What can you offer that others can’t?

From the design of Star Fantasy Leagues to the development of our wide array of features, the creative thirst of our staff has translated into a culture of innovation.

For many daily fantasy websites that culture of innovation has fallen to the wayside in favor of big marketing spends and large prize pools. The model for Star Fantasy Leagues did not include just daily contests but season-long leagues – launching in July 2014 – along with new, never-before-seen contests that are currently in development. Offering these robust features to our players is one of our primary long-term differentiators.

What’s the attraction of fantasy leagues? Why do people play?

For the vast majority of the millions of people currently playing fantasy sports in the US, it is the healthy release from the stressors of daily life and the camaraderie of leagues played among friends that keeps players enthusiastically coming back year after year. Fantasy leagues unite old college friends across the country, giving them an avenue to stay in contact with old pals every year regardless of busy schedules.

As a player myself, I participate in leagues with my childhood friends, college friends and even friends of friends who I now have developed a greater relationship with.

With daily fantasy sports now becoming a major part of the industry’s landscape, the fantasy elite now has an avenue to win contests and make money at a much greater clip than season-long leagues. Players now have a chance to win thousands of dollars every day and some players have even “turned pro,” dedicating countless hours to researching fantasy sports every day as a full-time job.

Interview: Zach Stanley & Star Fantasy Leagues

Tell us about the TV channel that you guys have in the pipeline…

Thanks to the success of our radio show – The SFL Show – we are very excited that we were able to nail down an hour-long show Mon-Fri at 11 PM EST on the FNTSY Sports Network.

The show will be loosely segmented with fantasy banter, comedy, instant reactions from each evening’s sporting events and mixed original concepts. We expect to begin airing before the beginning of the 2014 NFL season.

What do you hope to get out of having a TV channel? Where will it take you?

Along with helping our brand reach a much larger audience as the FNTSY Sports Network continues to grow, we are also broadening the company as a whole by continuing to gain presence in the media landscape. The goal is to grow the show as the network grows, with an eye on becoming the most popular late night fantasy show in the country.

How far do you expect to take SFL?

In short, the sky is the limit.

Our staff is fully dedicated to the future of this company and we continue to meet the lofty goals we have set for Star Fantasy Leagues. We have positioned ourselves to be an integral part of the growth of the fantasy sports industry going forward thanks to our unique ability to build new and innovative technologies at a rapid pace.

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