The explosive growth of fantasy football is rooted in the ability for fans to feel a special rooting interest in a team of players that they selected. Yahoo! started offering free fantasy football leagues in 1999. Many other platforms developed to do the same including ESPN, CBS, and Fox. Websites such as DraftKings and fun88 organize the sport.
According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, there are now 33 million people playing fantasy football each year. They also include an estimated 6.4 million women. Initially, most of the revenue was generated from the sale of information—Yahoo! and dozens of other sites offered their evaluation and ranking of players.
Newsstands became crowded with publications dedicated to fantasy sports. Television now offers a multitude of fantasy football programming. While the NFL initially feared the connection with gambling, they now embrace fantasy football on their NFL.com website offering fantasy advice and updates.
The phenomenal popularity of DirecTV’s RedZone channel, which focuses on games where teams are about to score, was built in part for fantasy players following their players. Switching from team to team, essentially only showing the action of each game. Mobile applications now allow fans to track their players and teams in real time, as well as update and change their line-ups 24 hours each day leading up to game day.
The research found by Ipsos, a marketing research company, revealed that Americans spend roughly $800 million annually across all fantasy sports media platforms.
One of the reasons that fantasy football has grown the fastest of all fantasy sports is the compressed nature of the season. There are 16 weeks to the NFL season, and the fantasy participants only need to prepare their lineups once a week for four months. Compare that to attempting to set a lineup every day for a 162-game Major League Baseball schedule that stretches over six months. Or even an NBA schedule that encompasses 82 games.
Football popularity is enhanced by the fact that it is an “event sport” with a build-up to the game ahead and analysis of the game past stretching throughout a week. The ready availability of scoring statistics online and in newspapers makes it easy for even the most casual football fan to follow their team.
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