Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fantasy Sports Unites Fans All Over The World

While sitting in a New York bar watching the New Orleans Saints successfully open the football season last week, it struck me that there is one thing that unites sports fans all over the world. Whether it is the NFL here in the US, rugby league in Australia or the English Premier League (EPL) soccer, today’s sports fans want to be engaged and actively interact with their favorite sports. They satisfy that desire by playing fantasy sports or by getting involved in forecasting weekly results. In Australia we call that tipping. Technology, fast-speed internet access and our increasing use of social media is making this engagement even easier and more fun for the fan.

The connection we have with our favorite sports now runs far deeper than merely supporting your local team or purchasing a few pieces of replica merchandising as was once the case. Trash talking your colleague over your fantasy quarterback selection is a big part of office culture on a Monday morning (or almost any day for that matter). Similarly, earning bragging rights over your mates with your superior tipping skills is a big deal Down Under.

This is all good news on a commercial front. The sport rights holder extends it product, sports marketers have something else to promote and broadcasters and, more importantly, sponsors have a wider reach.

The numbers involved are staggering. Fantasy sports are recognized as a multi-million dollar business. In 2010, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association “represents more than 110 member companies in a mature industry with a market size…at 27 million adult Americans”. It is estimated that about 85% of participants play on-line. That, of course, makes large consumer-oriented companies sit up and take notice. The industry is worth approximately $1 billion a year and that may well double in the future according to analysts.

Our interest and interaction is still growing despite the poor economy and this is taking place the world over. European fantasy football (soccer) is growing and the official EPL fantasy game has over 2 million players. Tipping is big business in Australia too as tipsters predict scores in most sports including Australian Football (AFL), rugby league, rugby union and soccer.

As I sat watching the Saints’ quarterback, Drew Brees, thread another successful pass I, like many others, had more than a passing interest in who scored the touchdown as opposed to the final score.

Chris Conway

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