Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fantasy Sports: No Longer a Marketing Fantasy

When people began playing Fantasy Sports in the early 1980s, it didn’t exactly catch on like wildfire. At the time, Fantasy Sports were a complicated, involved hobby for only the die-hard sports fanatic, an extremely small but involved segment of the population. Pre-Internet times meant no access to player statistics, hence league members would be forced to calculate their scores by hand on a weekly basis using the box scores printed in the local newspaper. This was extremely time-consuming (take it from someone who actually did this), and significantly limited the growth of the industry.

Today, that couldn’t be further from
the truth. Fantasy Sports in 2008 has become mainstream, with an estimated 34 million U.S. consumers having participated in a fantasy sports game. ESPN has regular fantasy sports draft programming on the air, radio stations have fantasy sports specific content, and there are thousands of websites dedicated to learning, playing, and mastering the craft.

Effect on marketing With the population of active fantasy sports conservatively estimated at 19 million in 2007 according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), it was only a matter of time before serious marketers began to enter the arena in droves. Coca-Cola and Toyota are currently presenting sponsors of the most popular Fantasy Football game at Yahoo! Sports. General Motors and Geico sponsor ESPN’s Fantasy Football, while CBS Fantasy Sports is sponsored by Bud Light.

Fantasy Sports sponsorships are not limited, however, to just the most popular game hosting sites. Samsung channel partner Circuit City, recently launched the Circuit City presents “YouTube Fanalyst Channel.” The channel provides a compilation of Fantasy Football analyst videos hosted on YouTube, plus contest opportunities for owners to create their own analysis to win prizes. As new games emerge, we can expect that more will be available.

Demographics The lure of Fantasy Sports to Fortune 500 companies is simple – according to MRI data, the Fantasy Football player is almost 3x more likely to watch National Football League games and content than the average person, and the audience is involved and engaged in the content.

When you couple this information with the high frequency of user visits to fantasy sports sites, brands can expect increased exposure of key messages that are target appropriate. According to the FSTA, approximately 75 percent of all visitors to fantasy content sites are male, skew towards an income of $75K+, and nearly 1/3 third are in the sought after 25-34 age range. Furthermore, more than 37% of fantasy sports users spend over 4 hours per week on fantasy sports related sites.

Implications Fantasy Sports consumers are a triple threat to marketers – the key young male marketing demographic with a higher income range, consistent and guaranteed partner site traffic, and long term investment/engagement in the content. As participation continues to grow at 7-10 percent/year (Source FTSA), Fantasy Sports will continue to be a lucrative opportunity for companies to reach consumers where they are engaged and receptive.

Jed Michaelson
Account Supervisor, Brand Management
Cheil USA


JT said...

Jed - excellent post. If you would like updated FSTA industry info, feel free to reach out to me. I have been working on educating brand managers, sports marketers, ad agencies, and anyone that will listen. Honestly, most brands are missing the big picture... straight, boring sponsorships are just not where it's at.

Jeff Thomas
President, Fantasy Sports Trade Association
Founder & CEO,

Anonymous said...

Hit it right on the money.