Over the past decade, fantasy football has become more than just a hobby – it’s a national phenomenon. It has created a buzz that’s swirling around the country and has spawned a brand new species of football fans. Not only do you have a fantasy team, but your sister has fantasy team, your boss has a fantasy team, even your mom has a fantasy team! Fantasy football is a tremendously entertaining, extremely nerve-racking and potentially heart-breaking interactive competition that delivers exactly what the name describes – a fantasy land where you own and manage a team of professional football players. But behind this fantasy, are a few real numbers that might just make you jump out of your seat.
The Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) reported that approximately $1.67 billion was spent on fantasy football in 2012, compared to a mere $800 million in 2008. In just four years, the fantasy football revenue stream saw a 48% increase. As a real world example, the NFL’s Oakland Raiders are currently valued at $825 million. Fantasy is quickly outpacing reality. We can only wonder what profits will be like in 20 years, 10 years, and even next year! More and more analysis is becoming available, new mobile apps are being created and innovative ways to play the game are popping up everywhere, all meaning one thing: more money. The revenue ceiling for fantasy football is high, with no end in sight.
In 2013, there were approximately 25.8 million fantasy football players in the United States according to the FSTA, compared to an estimate that two million people were playing fantasy football in 2000. Following the trend of previous years, this number is only expected to grow. The FSTA says that 80% of today’s players say they plan to participate for the next decade, while 40% say they will continue to play for life. Not to mention, the fastest growing demographic of players is the 18-and-under crowd, indicating continued participation for a long time. Technological advances, like mobile apps, are also playing a large part in the increase. For example, CBS redesigned and retooled its fantasy football app, and saw usage increase 133% in July compared to 2012. In a study conducted by Burst Media, it was found that 73.1% of men use a tablet or smartphone to access fantasy football-related media, with 28.8% saying it was their primary medium for accessing this information. What does this all mean? It means fantasy football is becoming more and more accessible, making it even easier to get involved.
In 2012, 22.3 million employed fantasy football owners spent at least an hour a week managing their rosters according to Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Take into account the average hourly wage of $19.33 and that’s $430.9 million per week, or $6.5 billion across an entire season, employers lose to fantasy football. And that was research conducted in 2012. The latest FSTA estimate says the average fantasy gamer spends at least three hours per week managing their teams. Through a 17-week season that’s a total of 1.3 billion hours spent tweaking fantasy football rosters.
Ok, this isn’t a shocking number. But there’s a back story. Fantasy Sports Insurance is an insurance company that offers coverage for your fantasy players, in case they go down for the year due to injury. For example, you pay $200 to participate in a fantasy football league. You can buy an insurance policy for $20 (10% per $100 insured), to protect your most valuable players. Let’s say your star running back suffers a season ending ACL injury, Fantasy Sports Insurance will repay you your original $200 investment. There are three different insurance options and only a handful of players who are eligible. With about 1,500 players injured for eight or more days during the 2012 season, business must be booming. The fact that we can even talk about fantasy football insurance is truly telling of how real fantasy football has become.
33 and 20%
Ok a two for one here. The former is the average age of a fantasy player and the latter is the percentage of women who played fantasy football on Yahoo! in 2012. Though the 18-and-under demographic is the fastest-rising fantasy user, women are beginning to get in on the trend, making up 20% of the fantasy footballers on Yahoo!, an 8% increase from 2009. Fantasy football can now be considered a family activity.
A Google search of “fantasy football” generates 397,000,000 results. It includes in-depth articles from the likes of ESPN to the New York Times, as well as an article fittingly entitled, “The Evil Genius of Fantasy Football”. The NFL is a nearly $10 billion industry. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see, as Forbes contributor Brian Goff puts it, “the derivative market grow larger than the foundational market.”
Are you playing fantasy football this season? Share in the comments below!