In total, the fantasy sports market is said to be worth an estimated USD 7.22billion annually, according to the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association (FSGA), which represents more than 150 companies across the USA and Canada involved in the fantasy sports and newly legalized sports betting industries.
Fantasy Sports – led in America by Football, by some considerable distance – were played by more than 59 million people in America and Canada in 2017, the latest year for which figures are available, spending an average of USD 653 every year to take part.
The number of participants was up from 57.4million Americans the previous year, 27 million in 2009 – and a mere 500,000 in 1988.
That participation figure includes free leagues on sports sites like Yahoo! Sports and ESPN, which use the competitions to drive web traffic and – as a result – advertising revenue, as well as pay-to-play daily fantasy football sites DraftKings, and FanDuel, that offer payouts for weekly contests during the season in the 80% of American States in which they operate.
Websites, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, have been operating for a decade – but mobile applications are much newer. Yahoo! unveiled its fantasy sports app in 2015. Specific user figures for key apps such as Yahoo!, ESPN, DraftKings and FanDuel are not readily available, but 39% of fantasy sports players use mobile devices compared to 25% in 2012, the FSGA has said.
While Football is the major driver of Fantasy Sports, other sports include – on ESPN’s roster alone – basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer and rugby.
Other sites, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, also offer golf, NASCAR, MMA and even esports.
On average fantasy sports players spent USD 653 on league-related costs, single-player challenge games and league-related materials over a 12-month period, the association said.
This interest in fantasy sports is boosting the popularity of real-life sport. According to the FSGA website, 64% of fantasy sports players questioned said that they watch more live sport due to their fantasy sport interest. And 61% said they read more about real sport for the same reason.