Fantasy sports and, in particular, fantasy football has been popular in North America for many decades now.
It is only in recent years however, that the game has taken the world by storm with tens of millions of active players not just here in America, but all across the globe, playing it regularly.
In this article we attempt to explain why the game has become so popular in recent years, what makes it so appealing to fans and what the future may hold for the fantasy football industry.
The Fantasy Football Boom
As mentioned above, fantasy football has always been popular with American sports fans, but the game’s appeal has skyrocketed in recent years, so what is behind the sudden boom in the game’s fortunes?
Here are three of the main reasons:
Covid-19: Many of us are sick of hearing about Covid-19 now and how it has negatively impacted this area of life and that particular industry. Well, it’s not just all doom and gloom when it comes to the pandemic and business, there were some winners as well as many losers.
Fantasy football was one of the many winners. With people’s calendars drastically reduced, sports took on a whole new level of importance, and with it fantasy sports. Not only was playing fantasy sports an escape, it was a way to gain that much needed social connection with friends.
Cash: At its core, fantasy sports has always been about escapism and fun, that was however, until major companies started to get seriously involved in the game. From the beginning of the 2010s, a number of big companies have sprung up offering fantasy football services and with it, big cash prizes that have enticed more people to play.
Accessibility: Can you remember what life was like before Steve Jobs released the iPhone to the world in 2007? Before the days of constant communication and access to everything at the tip of our fingers? Remember how much effort we all had to go to, to get involved in a fantasy sports league? No such barriers exist nowadays, you can be signed up to any number of fantasy leagues if you want within minutes.
The Financial Picture
When you think of the money in sports, your mind doesn’t immediately connect the dots and recognise fantasy sports as a multi-billion dollar industry, but that is exactly what it is. In 2019 the fantasy sports industry brought in revenues of $18.6 billion with the vast majority of that coming from fantasy football.
That’s a massive increase since the early noughties when the industry was worth just over a billion dollars. Obviously, a proportion of those increased revenues have come from increased playing numbers, but a large part of the industry’s financial success comes down to its commercial activity.
Sponsorships and on-site/app advertising accounts for a huge amount of fantasy revenues. Whilst the split might not quite be 50/50, the commercial activities of fantasy sports providers does make up a substantial amount of revenue.
What The Future Holds For Fantasy Football
Whilst some are predicting that the fantasy sports industry will plateau and that playing numbers will return to pre-pandemic levels, that shouldn’t be a cause for concern for anyone with a financial interest in the sector.
Changing legislation that is seeing more and more American states legalise online sports betting with each passing year represents a massive financial opportunity for the fantasy sports industry. With captive audiences of avid sports fans already signed up to their apps and sites, savvy fantasy providers are now moving into the world of online sports betting.
This will significantly blur the lines between sports betting and fantasy sports and potentially have huge ramifications for both industries. For us consumers, what we are likely to first notice is a change in the messaging from our favourite fantasy sports providers.
As well as receiving regular emails about the latest injuries and suspensions, expect to see your inbox filling up with emails about moneyline bets and parlays.
Do you think this partnership between fantasy sports and online sports betting sounds like a good idea? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.