Can you smell it? The smell of beer, pizza, and freshly-washed team jerseys. It's almost football season, baby.
And with the start of the NFL season in September comes the start of fantasy football. Soon, millions of fans will crunch the numbers and draft their teams in the hopes of shaming their friends, co-workers, or family members with an epic fantasy beatdown. There are plenty of popular places that host fantasy football leagues - NFL.com, Yahoo!, and ESPN to name a few. I'm partial to ESPN fantasy football myself, but let's just say that NFL.com now has a much bigger draw than in previous years.
That's because NFL.com fantasy football will be powered by Google+ Hangouts this year.
League members be able to easily start Hangouts with the click of one button from inside their league page on NFL.com. And eventually, players will see an indicator every time they visit their fantasy page that lets them know if other league members are currently inside Hangouts.
Hangouts are going to be ready for draft time, and will stick around as a core part of the experience all season. That means that any time you want to discuss a possible trade or simply talk smack to the guy you're beating by 40 points, you can do it through NFL.com.
Because most fans select their fantasy rosters in real time, and many leagues consist of people from across the globe, we think you'll find that hangouts are a natural extension of your (healthy) obsession. Not only can you connect live with your friends on draft day; you can actually gloat celebrate in person, regardless of where your league members are located. We're also upping the number of hangout participants from 10 to 12 on NFL.com/fantasy, since the standard fantasy league has a dozen players.
Not only will fantasy league business now move to Hangouts, but all of that fantasy advice and breakdowns from experts featured on the site will also move to Hangouts as commentators can hang out with fans and talk shop.
Google has been expanding the power and presence of Hangouts single the inception of Google+ - most recently expanding Hangouts On Air to everyone and integrating Hangouts into Gmail. But this is the first time that Hangouts have moved outside the Google arena. Hangouts are indeed a great technology and definitely the best feature of Google+. It will be interesting to see where else we see Hangouts pop up in the future - the possible uses for Hangouts on any number of sites are endless.