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USA Today Takes Minority Stake In Fantasy Sports Ventures; Will Share Content, Marketing

This story was written by Staci D. Kramer.

Fantasy Sports Ventures, which made news last month with the acquisition of, now has more money to spend. Gannett (NYSE: GCI) flagship USA Today took a minority stake in a first round for the company, built so far on angel funding in the seven-figure range from nearly three dozen investors. USAT was the only participant in the round and is now the largest minority shareholder. No dollar amounts given but we believe the total raised to be in the low eight figures.  The company owns eight sites; FSV CEO Chris Russo tells paidContent he expects "to buy several more" and is most interested in sites with unique content and large scale to expand the company's owned-and-affiliate ad network. "Most of the sites that we are buying have 100-500,000 uniques." Asked if the company is profitable, he replied: "We've only been around for 18 months." He wouldn't confirm financial details.

As is so often the case these days, there's another deal as wellthis one meshing content and marketing. It's the distribution that made the difference here; Russo said they could have raised the money elsewhere. 

-- USAT's sports content will be distributed through the Fantasy Players Network of 100-plus sites. FSV says it reached nearly 5 million uniques last month, according to Nielsen NetRatings.. 
-- USAT will get statistical analysis, roster tips and draft predictions from FSV for use in print and online, including USA affiliates.
-- On the marketing side, the two work together on sponsorships aimed at fantasy players "via the Web, print, mobile and other media and will feature large media event platforms."

Sports Business Journal: "Other than adding content to the sports sites for USA Today's 3 million monthly visitors, the deal gives FSV a larger platform on which to achieve its long-stated objective of selling fantasy sponsorships, rather than just eyeballs. ... at peak periods, like the beginning of the NFL season, FSV and USA Today's sports sites could attract as many as 13 million to 15 million unique users combined. Right now, the number is closer to 6 million."

By Staci D. Kramer

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