Monday, July 10, 2006

Money or the box (of traffic)?

That's it. I've had enough of traffic. Traffic is overrated at this point. At least, it's over-rated for my "other" site, FanFooty, the one about Australian rules fantasy football. The load on our server got so bad this weekend that I couldn't access it for the entire duration of the AFL games on both Friday and Sunday - the live fantasy scoring pages are by far the most popular pages on the site, and of course they're only interesting during and just after games. My access problems appeared to be mainly because I'm at the arse end of the Internet down here in Geelong, so I'm the last on the line to get to our server which is sitting in Florida, although others reported either slowness or lack of access. When I could see the php, I was getting the dreaded Warning: mysql_connect(): Too many connections message. We've been running at upwards of 3500 unique visitors a day, serving 100k pages a day on the weekend.

The solution is to charge for access to the live scoring pages. It's sacrificing traffic for the good of a smaller number of users, and depending on how many of those 3500 visitors (2260 of whom are registered on the site) convert to paid members, it might allow more investment back into infrastructure or other stuff. I put up a poll about the amount to charge up on Bigfooty, although my first thought was to charge A$5 for a half-year, and A$10 for a full year, if only because it's similar to the charge structure of Yahoo Gamechannel. The resistance between $5 and $10 or even $20 isn't anywhere near as much as it is between $0 and $0.01 for any product online, of course, especially for FanFooty since it seems fantasy football in Australia skews a bit more teenagey than is the norm elsewhere - mostly because the historical popularity has been far more on free-to-enter salary cap comps as opposed to paid private leagues. Perhaps by charging for access to live scoring FanFooty's own membership will skew older.

Dealing with a paid membership will mean I am going to have to use more of my experiences at FUMBBL.com, as I blogged about last year. Not that people pay to use FUMBBL, but they have something to fight over, in their case being ranking and community reputation, and making people pay to access parts of FanFooty means I have to start dealing more directly with griefers. I will have to start tracking IPs, identifying hacks, and dealing with angry users who think I've stiffed them out of a fiver/tenner for some reason or another. Should be good practice for Tinfinger.

The next step for FanFooty, apart from officially launching FanLeague and then FanSoccer and on and on, is to start some adjutant revenue projects. Fantasy football in Australia is still at a very early stage of development, and there are a lot of types of complementary products yet to hit the market at a quality level of the States.

Note: Mike A blogged about fantasy NFL today, linking FleaFlicker.

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