Measuring the Impact of Daily Fantasy Sports
Entertainment With a growing number of players, prize pools and media partnerships, fantasy sports are on course to change the way fans consume sports entirely.
Daily fantasy sports (DFS) aren’t just growing—they’re exploding. The industry already boasts millions of players, has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in cash prizes and has formed partnerships with media corporations such as ESPN, Fox Sports, Comcast and NBC. All of this leads many experts to think that DFS won’t just change the fantasy landscape; it will change the way fans consume sports.
Breaking down DFS
Unlike traditional season-long leagues, DFS contests last just one day, or, in the NFL’s case, one week. This speeds up both the gaming and payout processes.
"In January, FanDuel, one of the largest DFS platforms, announced that it had eclipsed one million active users."
DFS is quicker but also more numbers-driven than season-long fantasy. Rather than selecting players in a draft, DFS contests involve a salary cap that gamers must adhere to while they build a team of athletes. Once selected, these athletes accumulate fantasy points based off their real-world performance that day.
The margin for error can be slim. Most large-field DFS tournaments offer six and even seven-figure prize pools, but have top scores that ultimately are decided by fractions of points. This means every yard in every NFL game might have DFS implications. It’s common for low and high-stakes DFS gamers alike to “sweat” the results of NFL games later in the day, when each play across the league might result in major swings for their lineups.
Does all of this sound niche, for diehard fans only? It’s not. It’s already big business.
While the first DFS sites were founded in 2007, the industry has exploded in the past year. In January, FanDuel, one of the largest DFS platforms, announced that it had eclipsed one million active users. DraftKings, FanDuel’s largest rival, recently predicted that it will award more than $1 billion in total prizes throughout 2015.
A game plan to grow further
Where does the industry go from here? In 2014, Eilers Research predicted that only 2.5 percent of season-long fantasy players also played DFS, indicating there’s plenty of room for continued mainstream growth. Eilers also predicted that, by 2017, DFS championship events will not only be televised, but also have viewership exceeding ESPN’s “World Series of Poker” coverage.
Personally, my prediction is that we’ll soon see totals for DFS salaries and points displayed alongside real-world stats in the scrolling broadcast tickers that have become a staple of all sporting events. How far the DFS industry really can grow, nobody knows. But what’s clear is we’ve only just begun to see the impact of this booming industry on the world of sports.