DirecTV recently announced they would be launching a brand new network exclusively available for NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers. The network, known as "Fantasy Zone," is hosted by NBC's Kay Adams (who will continue her duties with NBCSN and Rotoworld) and Dhani Jones.
As NFL games are broadcasted on CBS and Fox on Sunday afternoons and highlights of those games are being shown on NFL RedZone, Fantasy Zone will keep viewers constantly updated on the stats of players who are making an impact on the field. They will also feature live studio visits from various football fanatic celebrities inside of their New York City loft. The hosts will even cook gameday food alongside chefs and sit alongside a doctor who will break down injuries and how they'll affect your fantasy team(s).
The network is meant to serve as football's version of MLB Fan Cave. It'll be fully produced and owned by DirecTV but the fantasy stats used will be powered by NFL.com. There's no word on whether Fantasy Zone will have access to highlights from Sunday's games but even if they don't, it's definitely a win for the consumer who is looking for an outlet to give them all the fantasy information they need without having to watch games which they have no rooting interest.
A big winner or a big loser in this new proposition could be Anthem Media Group's Fantasy Sports Network or any other fantasy sports network which is launching soon. If I were FNTSY Sports Net, I would leverage this new venture as a way of getting onto the negotiating table with DirecTV. DirecTV will need many allies from the independent television sector in order to ease their AT&T merger process with government regulators.
If FNTSY Sports Net doesn't get their way and DirecTV doesn't sign a carriage deal with them, they could testify against them during approval hearings. They could allege that DirecTV didn't want to provide viewers with a choice of where to get their fantasy football fix and wanted viewers to solely rely on a network owned by themselves. The government's biggest fear when it comes to these big media mergers is that the new media entity that forms will become too powerful to allow competition.
In their testimony, they could also prove that their content is TV-ready quality by using their Cablevision carriage deal as evidence.
It's the reason why DirecTV probably signed Back9Network to a deal in June. The independent golf lifestyle network recently testified against Comcast in their hearings regarding the cable operator's acquisition of Time Warner Cable.