The NFL has never been a money-maker, but as fantasy football has become increasingly popular, the NFL has embraced it. According to a survey conducted by the Star-Ledger in New Jersey, roughly one-third of self-identified NFL fans (32%) are at least “somewhat interested” in fantasy sports. Of those surveyed, four out of five (82%) said they had played fantasy sports in the past year. Fantasy football may not have caused it, but it certainly gave fans something else to be passionate about.
I started playing fantasy football for the first time last season and was instantly hooked. In ESPN's nearly three decades in the fantasy football business, Marshall said the most significant change has been the shift from desktop applications to mobile applications. Traditional media outlets such as CBS Sports, ESPN and Yahoo Sports have a long-standing presence in traditional fantasy football formats, while newer companies such as Underdog Fantasy, Sleeper and PrizePicks have also embraced daily fantasy sports, “best ball” (a format in which users select a team but don't manage it throughout the season) and other non-traditional forms of play. Karamitis from DraftKings expects fantasy operators to continue testing new game formats, which could include the implementation of next-generation statistics using NFL player tracking data in fantasy football.
According to the Morning Consult survey, three out of four respondents who participated in fantasy football last year (74%) said they visited fantasy-focused websites for information and advice “often” or “sometimes”. It's not that there's a fantasy Roger Goodell team determined to make the sport more fantasy-friendly. CBS Sports, which now offers free and premium leagues, first offered its fantasy football leagues online a year later. The main goal of fantasy executives is to make fantasy football more socially interactive, some experts said.
A new product is Reignmakers Football by DraftKings, a blockchain-based fantasy sports initiative in which users buy digital player cards, form a lineup and compete against other users in a daily fantasy contest.