The Fantasy Sports Trade Association conducted a 2004 study on the fantasy sports industry. The data revealed that there are 29.6 million fantasy players and 85% use the Internet, numbers that mean big bucks for those able to grab a piece of the fantasy pie.

The study indicates that football is the most popular fantasy sport, raking in an impressive 8 million players. Experts credit the mass popularity due to the structure of the game's season, allowing for more casual participation with a 16-game season.

As the most popular, football is not surprisingly the most profitable as well. According to the FSTA study, fantasy football took in about $100 million in sales in 2004. Fantasy baseball trailed behind with a paltry $20 million in revenue.

The capability for profit has not gone unheeded by sports networks. ESPN, Fox and CBS Sportsline have jumped on the fantasy route to online revenue, either through "pay-to-play" or free services that pay for themselves via advertising sales.

 

Sports writer Stuart Miller credits fantasy sports as providing multiple paths to profits, including generating a unique source of revenue, boosting ratings for sports programming, promoting further use of the main web site, and facilitating brand loyalty. He further notes that fantasy sports hit home with one of the most financially desirable demographic groups: affluent and educated adult men 18-54.

ESPN.com senior vice president of business operations and programming John Kosner attributes the value of fantasy sports for ESPN is in the synergy that occurs between mediums. He gives the example of Eric Karabell, who now is able to offer multi-media sports commentary as a fantasy sport expert through ESPN News, ESPN the Magazine and a weekly hourlong radio show online. "His televised commentary drives people to the games on the website, and those games drive people to ESPN to watch 'their' players perform. It is a neat little cycle of consumption." (Ballard, 2004)

Finally, the 2004 FTSA study also reveals that fantasy sports lovers are paying on average $154 for Internet scouting reports, stat-packed magazines and other data. This makes the fantasy sports industry one of the more lucrative uses of Internet communications

 

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"Fantasy Sports" as produced through University of Florida MMC5015

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