Yahoo Buys Social Sports Startup Citizen Sports

Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) has hinted for several months that it would be buying more companies and it’s finally made an acquisition — buying up social sports startup Citizen Sports, which it says will compliment Yahoo Sports, the top sports site in the U.S.

And, indeed, the move immediately gives Yahoo clout in the social networking and mobile sports spaces, where it has been weak. Citizen Sports owns a series of popular sports apps on the iPhone and on social networking sites, including what it says is the most popular fantasy football app on Facebook. By contrast, Yahoo has long been the top player in the online fantasy sports market, but only last September did it release a fantasy football iPhone app and, as far as I can tell, it does not have any sports apps at all on Facebook.

In its announcement, Yahoo says Yahoo Sports content will be integrated into Citizen Sports’ apps. Together, the company says, Yahoo Sports and Citizen Sports will create a “more personally relevant experience, drive deeper user engagement and create opportunities for advertisers to interact with audiences in new environments.”

Financial terms of the acquisition were not released, although AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher — who predicted the deal earlier this week — put the price at between $40 million and $50 million. Citizen Sports had raised roughly $10 million in a funding round four years ago, back when it was operating under the name ProTrade Sports.

This is Yahoo’s third acquisition under CEO Carol Bartz. Going ahead, the company has said it is interested in three general areas — deals that would add “important technology and the people behind it,” content-related deals, and geographic buys that would let the company move into or strengthen its position in a market.

Here’s our earlier report on what Yahoo may buy next.

The release:

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Mar 17, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — As part of its ongoing commitment to be the center of people’s online lives, Yahoo Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Citizen Sports (, a company that brings the world of sports to fans’ favorite social networking sites and mobile devices through innovative applications. This acquisition will strengthen Yahoo!’s social strategy of enriching, aggregating and distributing social content from across the entire Web, and offering a highly customizable social experience.

“Yahoo! is in a unique position to combine our deep expertise in content and aggregation technology to offer a highly personalized social experience,” said Bryan Lamkin, senior vice president, Consumer Products Group, Yahoo!. “Sports has been among the earliest online categories to experience rapid social proliferation, and the combination of Citizen Sports leading products with our world-class sports experience on Yahoo! Sports is a win-win for sports fans globally.”

Millions of people across the globe use Citizen Sports’ array of social and mobile products to play fantasy sports, fill out brackets, check live scores and read up-to-the minute news on sports including football, hockey, soccer, baseball, racing, rugby, hockey and cricket. Yahoo! Sports’ content will be integrated into these products, creating a seamless experience for sports fans wherever they are. On Yahoo! Sports, users will be able to broadcast their allegiances, create or join a conversation with friends and fans and cheer for their teams through Citizen Sports’ applications. This integration will further transform Yahoo! into a more personally relevant experience, drive deeper user engagement and create opportunities for advertisers to interact with audiences in new environments.

As the #1 destination for online Sports with more than 39 million monthly unique users in the U.S.*, Yahoo! Sports provides people with the most timely, relevant and comprehensive sports news, information and programming. Citizen Sports’ network of popular applications for Facebook, MySpace (NYSE: NWS), hi5, iPhone and Android span professional, college and high school sports.

“Citizen Sports was founded with the intent to enable fans to access news, scores and fantasy games on the platform of their choice,” said Mike Kerns, founder and CEO of Citizen Sports. “We look forward to becoming a part of Yahoo! and bringing our social experiences to their 600 million users around the globe.”

Citizen Sports was founded by Mike Kerns and Jeff Ma in 2004. Since then the company has brought together millions of sports fans from around the world to enjoy sports and connect with their friends. Citizen Sports is based in San Francisco.

Yahoo! expects to complete this acquisition in the second quarter of 2010. Financial terms were not disclosed.

* February 2010, comScore (NSDQ: SCOR), U.S.