SXSW 2014: What’s New In Fantasy Sports

Fantasy sports has becoming a big business for Football and the NFL. More  sports are being added to the ecosystem and a lot of the trends that have been used to grow casual and mobile gaming are being used to attract younger audiences.

Shortening the format of Fantasy play to a daily and quicker gameplay added a new segment to the business. Short-format Fantasy is a daily format with picks of teams and players for games renewing everyday. The size of this new business is over $20MM per year, with a current user base of about 1.3mm (500k with money on the line in games)

New investments are being made with startups to capitalize. Companies like FanDuel (add link), which recently received a 11mm investment from Comcast is bringing in audiences that peak around 26-30 yrs old (Long form Fantasy sports peaks around 41yrs old). Their fans also have a higher rate of sports programming viewership by 40% over traditional fantasy players. This is making the big players like the NFL at ESPN look closer at Daily fantasy and short-format fantasy

Fantasy games are now year long, multi-platform and moving towards mobile. They are also increasing inclusion of bloggers to drive engagement.

ESPN and others are building for other sports outside of Fantasy Football.

  • Fantasy Baseball (more demanding). Now using touch screen technology to create injury tracker and telestrate injuries , like in-game analysts on TV.
  • Better explanation of injuries and stats now for Fantasy than for players
  • Users engaging more and more as their GM and scout planning year round for sports

Finally, Fantasy Sports is influencing TV content for major sports networks and cable providers

  • DirectTV – create your own red zone based on your fantasy players. Live updates to your TV overlaying the screen
  • NFLNow-can update your new fantasy players when added to your team with video
  • Fantasy Live – NFL network (6 days a week)

In addition, ESPN com has multiple Fantasy sports shows on air and there is a 24 hour a day Fantasy Sports Network launching this year; so growth will continue to move in this space.