TheScore delves deeper into gaming on Facebook

A new fantasy sports product offers an easy entry point for new audiences as the company continues investing in digital channels.
theScore- Inc--theScore Launches First-Ever Fantasy Sports Game

This story has been updated.

Digital sports media company theScore has launched an online fantasy sport game via Facebook’s Instant Games platform, marking another audience development investment for the company.

The free theScore Fantasy Sports social game operates through Facebook Messenger, letting players build fantasy football, hockey, soccer and basketball teams to compete against friends. Users are given a salary cap to spend on a draft, and then match their teams against people on their Facebook friends list to see whose players performed best in real-world match-ups.

It’s a slimmed-down version of Squad Up, theScore’s mobile fantasy sports app that offers cash prizes and pits users against a universal pool of contestants. Riaz Lalani, the company’s VP of product, says this game was designed to allow friends and family to more easily play directly against one another – something that can be tough to organize with more complicated fantasy sports products that draw large user bases with cash prizes.

Lalani said Facebook’s 1.3 billion monthly active users drew theScore to the platform as a way to grow the brand’s audience. The company has been investing in digital channel products over the last two years, notably with the launch of a flash update “skill” on Amazon Alexa and a chatbot for Facebook Messenger.

“We’ll think about monetization going forward,” Lalani said of the new game. “The initial focus on this platform was to build an experience that drove retention and growth. We didn’t want to divert our focus from building a great game.

“We learned from our Messenger bot that there’s a whole world out there of potential users we can reach. We’re not specifically targeting any one group,” but going broad has allowed theScore to find where large groups focus around a particular sport online.

“Early in our bot experience, we were getting a lot of users from India asking specifically to follow the Indian cricket team,” Lalani said. “We know there’s a large Indian contingent on Messenger, so we would consider adding a fantasy sport cricket experience in India, for example.”

Lalani said there may be opportunities to seed the game with content from theScore’s experts and personalities to bolster the brand’s expert credentials. At launch, the game does not include a link to or promotion for its popular mobile app.

Facebook’s Instant Games platform launched with 17 games in November 2016. It has grown since, but because there is less competition on the platform than, say, the Apple App Store (where a reported 500 games are submitted for distribution every day), there is no paid media spend allocated to promote theScore’s new game.

Research from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association pegs the value of the fantasy sports industry at over $7.22 billion in the U.S. It says more than 59 million people in the United States and Canada have played a fantasy sports game. Two thirds of that audience are men, with football leading as the most popular fantasy sport at 66% of the market.

Correction: This story originally reported that theScore’s new game did not include soccer as a fantasy sports option. The game does include drafting options for the English Premier League. Media In Canada regrets the error.