Fantasy football is a delightful diversion — so delightful, in fact, that tens of millions of us will be playing it this fall once the real sport kicks off. What's not so delightful? Making sure that everyone in your fantasy league has paid their entry fee. It's the process that turns close friends into deadbeats, contending players into money-obsessed paranoids, and your league commissioner into a one-person debt collection agency.
Tilt has a modest proposal for fantasy football players: Leave the money collecting to us.
The site, which just changed its name from Crowdtilt to emphasize its expansion beyond mere crowdfunding, announced a partnership with ESPN on Thursday, in which people participating in a league through ESPN's Fantasy Football Web and mobile offerings can turn to Tilt to collect entry fees.
League commissioners who want Tilt to handle the messy issue of gathering up entry fees simply have to log in to Tilt through Facebook. (That's a fraud prevention measure, Tilt says, and not an invitation for the site to post things to your News Feed.) You set the dues and can tell Tilt how many teams have to pay up before the pool of prize money becomes active. Commissioners can also talk to the participants in their league through Tilt and customize payouts to the winning players.
Tilt's not providing this service for free, of course. The company charges a fee for each team — 95 cents for a debit card or 95 cents plus a 2.9-percent processing charge for credit card payments. That's a one-time fee — Tilt doesn't charge anything when it issues payments to the winning teams.
If handling fantasy football entry fees seems like an odd thing for a crowdfunding site to add to its curriculum vitae, you haven't been paying much attention to Tilt's attempt to reposition itself as something other than just another Kickstarter or Indiegogo. In addition to crowdfunding, the site also handles things like fundraising and pooling money, and the ESPN partnership is an extension of that, a Tilt spokesperson told me: "We are pioneering the next generation of crowdfunding tools, and this deal is a terrific example of crowdfunding spilling into the rest of the Web."
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