By Greg Deinzer, Research Director
(With input from Chris Winkler)
I love watching football, but haven’t been involved in a fantasy league for 25 years. Back then, there was no online assistance to research or draft players, or to keep track of everyone’s weekly stats.
After all, that was the job of your league’s ‘commissioner’ who conscientiously entered data into a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet and then kept all the important information to himself. That’s why he always won the $100 money pool year after year.
Nowadays, it seems everyone and their mother is in a fantasy football league. So, being the good market researcher that I am, I was curious to find out more about why fantasy football is still so popular. Findings from Morpace’s September 2015 Omnibus survey of 1,001 U.S. respondents help reveal some interesting truths about fantasy football leagues.
It turns out that only 13% of all respondents are involved in one or more season-long NFL Fantasy Football leagues this year. Of those currently participating, one-half are playing in one league, over one-fourth in two leagues, and 1-in-5 is in three or more leagues.
One-in-seven people who are currently in a league are participating for the first time. (Welcome…to the jungle!) And, about one-fourth have been involved for seven or more years. (Watch it bring you to your knnn knne knees, knees.) (Guns N’ Roses ca. 1987).
More women are joining season-long fantasy football leagues than when I participated. According to our Omnibus, over one-third (36%) of those currently playing in a league are female, and one-half of them are in their first or second year.
Surprising to me is that the top reason for joining a fantasy football league isn’t to win the prize pool. Three-out-of-five play because they like the competition and one-fifth want to do something together with their spouse/partner (which defeats the whole purpose in my opinion. Maybe that’s why I’m divorced).
There are fewer musty basements to meet in anymore. All of the fantasy football leagues are now hosted online, and well more than one-half of the participants draft their team online from various locations. Bars and restaurants even advertise each summer the reasons why your fantasy football draft should be held at their establishment.
Fantasy football leagues are also not as costly as I remember. The median total spent, according to our Omnibus, is $50 including entry fees, reference books, magazines, advice, parties, etc. However, close to one-third of fantasy managers subscribe to DirecTV’s NFL ticket, and if you’re like me and also subscribe, you know that this package can sometimes require a second mortgage. That may be why the mean total spent is $196 and $347 for first and second year participants.
In total, players admit to spending an average of 5.5 hours per week managing their team(s). Combine this with the two-thirds of fantasy managers who watch 3 or more games per week (at least one-half’s worth of the game) and we have a lot of time spent (or wasted) per week.
Three-fourths of those employed admit to checking on their fantasy football team at work, averaging 3.5 hours per week ‘managing’ their teams. I think we can double that average and add a few more hours and still not be close to reality.
Like me, 7% are not currently in any fantasy leagues, but have been in the past. Unlike me, about one-half of those people ‘Have other things to do’. Five percent even admitted that they quit because it interfered with their job. Hey, whatever happened to multi-tasking?
With the barrage of commercials for “one week” fantasy games and the amount of money you can win, the 5% of all respondents and one-third of current season-long participants who report playing the weekly contests seems low. But, because of illegal use of insider information, weekly games are probably only fun and profitable for the people who work at the websites who host them.
Oh, and if you are wondering who is going to win Super Bowl 50, 12% of all respondents predict the New England Patriots will repeat as champs. Seven percent pick the Green Bay Packers. Another 7% feel that the Seahawks will come through, barring a last second interception. And a whopping 47% chose a team that I’ve never heard of – ‘Don’t know/Don’t care’.
This likely isn’t information that you will use to help your company become more profitable, but the data from this Morpace Omnibus may help you to sound smarter than your fellow fantasy football league owner. And if anything, it tells us that America’s love for football is not going anywhere (that is, if you disregard the one-half who ‘Don’t know/Don’t care’).