Fantasy Sports: Not Just Play Money


fantasy sportsAmericans may be getting busier every year, but longer working hours and decreased leisure time are not expected to slow down the booming Fantasy Sports Services industry. Fantasy sports involve the development of online platforms where participants act as general managers to build teams that compete against other fantasy owners based on statistics that individual players generate in real life. IBISWorld estimates that the Fantasy Sports Services industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, and it is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 7.6% to $1.8 billion over the five years through 2018. In 2013, an estimated 33.6 million Americans will take part in fantasy sports, including football, basketball, baseball and hockey. This number continues to grow each year as more Americans participate as a form of social interaction with friends and colleagues, which provides a deeper level of involvement with the sports they love.

Furthermore, fantasy sports have become increasingly available to Americans over the past five years because of rapidly growing mobile internet access. The number of mobile internet connections is estimated to grow 22.0% in 2013, which will provide an additional medium through which fantasy sports players can access news and games. As a result, other industries, such as the advertising agencies, internet publishing and broadcasting, and television broadcasting, will grow as they adjust to the growing fantasy sports audience.


Advertisers cash in

The most notable benefactor of the increasing popularity of fantasy sports is the Advertising Agencies industry. The majority of fantasy sports service providers do not charge users fees and, therefore, rely on advertising income to generate revenue. Advertising agencies create campaigns and place advertisements on television, on the radio and online, and they are expected to benefit from 2.0% annualized growth in US total advertising expenditure over the five years through 2018. Fantasy sports information is largely digested online. About 74.0% of fantasy sports players obtain data through four or more websites, including major players Yahoo!, ESPN and CBS Corporation, as well as directly from sports leagues like, all of whom generate greater advertising revenue through increased traffic.

Therefore, advertisers are expected to focus on developing campaigns to be placed on these websites that fantasy players frequent. Such campaigns include the use of banner ads and, more recently, pop-up videos that must be watched before a user can proceed to the next page. Furthermore, greater emphasis on using mobile devices to access fantasy sports services is expected to help the Advertising Agencies industry grow an annualized 3.4% over the five years through 2018.


Website hosts continue to benefit

Fantasy sports services are offered online, and the increasing number of players each year has created demand for more related news, social networking, internet forum discussions and internet-based radio broadcasting. Fantasy sports fans continuously look for new ways to discover information regarding their favorite players, which has benefited the Internet Publishing and Broadcasting industry. The Internet Publishing and Broadcasting industry has posted incredible growth over the past five years as the internet becomes an increasingly prominent aspect of everyday life. Furthermore, the industry is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 17.3% to $52.2 billion in the next five years. Fantasy news websites, social networking tools and podcasts that cater to a growing audience will provide additional industry growth.

Broadcasters respond to fans

Firms in the Television Broadcasting industry are also expected to continue to benefit from increased fan engagement. Fantasy sports provide a new level of engagement for fans and increase an individual’s likelihood of watching a game when fantasy players are involved. The Television Broadcasting industry has experienced an increase in competition over the past five years due to internet piracy and the rising prevalence of streaming services such as Netflix. However, fantasy sports provide a growth opportunity for the Television Broadcasting industry, which is expected to grow an annualized 1.7% to $40.8 billion over the five years through 2018.  Networks have responded to fans by providing live fantasy statistics updates during games, creating channels that simply track game statistics and offering programming dedicated to discussing the changing value of fantasy players.

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New professional service businesses enter

The addition of legal gambling, in the form of league fees paid to winners, is also helping fantasy sports’ popularity. Gambling adds a financial and thrill-seeking aspect to fantasy sports and attracts more participants. Over the five years through 2013, these additional benefits have helped propel the industry an estimated annualized 11.7% to $1.2 billion.

The rising popularity of fantasy sports has not gone unnoticed by other sectors. Most notably, the industry has spurred the formation of new firms specializing in fantasy insurance, legal services and banking. In 2008, Fantasy Sports Insurance was founded, aiming to provide insurance for a fantasy team owner’s star players. The business, which is part of the Property, Casualty and Direct Insurance industry, takes a fee to insure a star player and pays the client reimbursement in the event of an injury. Additionally, new businesses have entered the Fantasy Sports Services industry to settle disputes in the game. will serve as a judge to make a ruling regarding fantasy issues for a fee of $14.95. Fantasy banking has also become a real option for enthusiasts. League fees are estimated to be valued at about $1.7 billion in 2013 and, as a result, firms such as LeagueSafe have become popular to hold league fees for the season. LeagueSafe does not charge fees but instead invests the money it holds during the season to turn a profit.

Fantasy sports surge forward

The Fantasy Sports Services industry’s strong growth is expected to continue over the next five years as American engagement with sports becomes increasingly social and consumption continues to move toward online media. Fantasy players spend an average of 8.7 hours per week consuming fantasy services, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, and this demand is expected to fuel growth in a number of sectors other than the Fantasy Sports Services industry. Advertising agencies, internet publishing and broadcasting firms, sports broadcasters and the professional services sector are all expected to benefit from the rising popularity of fantasy sports and the increasing thirst for related information in the coming years.

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