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How fantasy sports site HuddleHub ended up as the punchline of a joke on late-night TV

Posted by Scott Kirsner  August 27, 2010 08:38 AM

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fallon.jpgFree exposure on national television is one of those things every small company dreams of.

But what if the exposure comes in the form of a punchline in a late-night monologue?

It happened to Boston-based HuddleHub earlier this year. The site will enable users who manage fantasy sports teams through different services, like ESPN.com, Yahoo, and CBS Sports, to access them in one place, either on the Web or via a mobile app, and get access to live statistics. HuddleHub's official launch is this coming Monday.

But back in March, on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon," HuddleHub found itself the butt of a joke in the host's monologue. At the time, the site was starting a beta test for the baseball season.

"There's a new program called HuddleHub that manages all of your fantasy sports teams," Fallon said. "They call it the perfect solution for someone who's too lazy to keep track of being too lazy to play actual sports."

The company clearly took the joke as good-natured ribbing; they quote it on their Web site. But how'd it happen?

The company sprang for a booth at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas in March, and happened to get a prime piece of real estate: right between PayPal and Rackspace, the Web hosting provider. Co-founder Patrick Hereford said he was initially skeptical of the value of being at a trade show, but the location attracted lots of media visits, and subsequent HuddleHub mentions on blogs run by CNN and PC World, Hereford writes.

How much traffic did the NBC mention generate? Fewer than 1000 visits to the site, Hereford says. (CNN and PC World together drove about that much traffic, he adds.)

What has actually done better for generating awareness has been participating in various online discussion forums about fantasy sports. "Interacting with people on a somewhat one-to-one basis in a public forum has been really good for us," he writes.

Interesting data point from the world of start-up PR...

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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