Yahoo Fumbles with Fantasy Football on Sunday

Yesterday, as I walked toward Union Square to meet a friend around 1:30 p.m., I was continually forcing my phone to re-launch the Yahoo! Fantasy Football app. Was Cam Newton going to score another TD? How many TD catches would Torrey Smith have against the Oakland Raiders? And most importantly, was I going to beat my opponents in my two leagues?

I had no way to know.

Yahoo’s fantasy football—one of the most popular fantasy football services, next to ESPN—went down around 1 p.m. Sunday, leaving millions of users stranded with no way to adjust their teams or check stats as the games went on. I know, I know; fantasy football is not the end-all, be-all of life. It’s just a fun pastime  But it’s one that some people take very seriously, and a handful bet a lot of money on, and its consistency is required.

This fantasy football blackout speaks to a larger issue at Yahoo. The internet giant’s third quarter earnings were $1.089 billion, slightly above expectations and 2 percent above year-to-year numbers. But the lackluster earnings reflect the lackluster expectations.

Yahoo’s new CEO, Marissa Mayer, has not yet been able to capitalize on the high expectations that surrounded her ascension to CEO in July. She spoke in October about Yahoo turning its focus to the mobile side, noting it had fallen behind leaders in the industry.

It’s true. Yahoo failed to change with the times, and like many companies of the dot com era of growth, it hung onto its old ways until they threatened to destabilize the company entirely. Yahoo is tweaking its homepage these days, scheming to find the best one to roll out in December. So, changes are coming, yes. The question is, are these changes enough? Will they reposition Yahoo in a style such that the brand can live up to its former expectations?

And more importantly, amidst Apple and Google, do people still care?

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