Sports traffic no fantasy for Yahoo

Yahoo's hopes to compete with Google and Microsoft in search and online advertising may be a fantasy, but the Internet company is a market leader when it comes to fantasy. Fantasy sports, that is. For those of you who haven't joined the rotisserie leagues, the object is to rack up scores based on the individual stats of imaginary teams made of real players. Not only does Yahoo have a much larger share of fantasy traffic than traditional sports properties ESPN and CBS, but, according to Compete, its lead grew this year with the opening of the 2007 NFL season (football is by far the most popular fantasy sport).

Compete's analysis ignores a broad market of smaller sites dedicated to fantasy sports and those which feature only one sport, like NFL.com's offering, but it's safe to say that Yahoo has a big lead over the niche competitors, too. Google has no fantasy sports whatsoever. More importantly, there's little Scott Moore, who oversees sports at Yahoo, can do to mess up Yahoo's leadership in fantasy sports. Besides making live statistics a paid option, Yahoo hasn't changed its offering much in recent years — nor has it needed to. Fantasy sports may not be enough to save Yahoo, but it provides a real source of comfort that the company can still do something right.