Fantasy Games, Real Numbers
Fantasy sports are more than just fun and games. Now played by more than 15 million people online, fantasy sports are in play as top sites battle for business from both gamers and advertisers.
While the typical fantasy football player is educated and well-budgeted - 54 percent make $75,000 a year or more, according to a CR Media Ventures study - free games have been on the rise. SportsLine, Fox Sports, ESPN, Yahoo, and AOL all offer fantasy league play for free. SportsLine, ESPN, and Yahoo also offer pay leagues that include more features and flexibility.
Steve Snyder, senior vice president and general manager of SportsLine, says the free games haven't cannibalized the site's pay leagues, and adds that 75 percent of SportsLine's fee-based baseball leagues have been on the site at least three years, which means the same people are returning year after year. That, Snyder says, is "an advertiser's dream." SportsLine game advertisers include GMC, McDonald's, Anheuser-Busch, Coke, and Toyota.
According to comScore Media Metrix, there were more than 173 unique visits across eight leading fantasy football site in September 2006, and Hitwise reports that traffic to 10 top sites during the same month was up 10 percent over September 2005. Hitwise also reported that the average session on such sites lasted 11 minutes, 55 seconds.
"It hasn't been any trouble selling ads," Snyder says. "Marketers know people are spending time and energy and passion on these sites."