As marketers, we spend a lot of time talking about the Super Bowl. It makes sense. According to Nielsen, an estimated 108 million people watched this year's Super Bowl. That's about one in every three U.S. residents.
But there is a football event bigger than that – and WAY more social than the Super Bowl. It begins in five months, so start planning now, because fantasy football is not that far away.
The Numbers That Matter
By sheer quantity of participants, fantasy football is not bigger than the Super Bowl. But the Super Bowl is a few-week party, while fantasy football is a multi-month religion.
Let’s look at some numbers:
Do some math and you find out that about one in every 12.5 U.S. and Canadian residents over the age of nine plays fantasy football. And that's using 2010 fantasy football numbers against 2013 population numbers, so the ratio is probably even higher.
I’ve seen some estimates saying the average fantasy football participant spends six hours a week on his/her team. Over the course of a 13-week season, that means 1.909 BILLION hours are spent on fantasy football. That’s about 217,972 YEARS EVERY YEAR!
If you take into account the trash-talking among participants (the social aspect of the game), you might have to double the time spent (if the leagues I am in are any indication). So, if you follow the marketing mantra of “go where the people are,” then go to fantasy football.
Fewer Trademark Issues
As a marketer, you can say “fantasy football” all day long and have no concerns about including it in advertising copy. By contrast, if you just mention the word “Super Bowl” during a creative brainstorm, someone from the NFL will pop out and fine your brand for trademark infringement.
This makes communications about fantasy football infinitely easier than marketing and advertising around the Sup… uh, the big game.
The Dollar Signs Are Smaller
Super Bowl spots cost around $3.8 million for 30 seconds this year. The economics of the Super Bowl alone make it nearly impossible for the average brand to take part. Sure, there are smaller opportunities to get involved, but not a lot.
Compare that to the big numbers for fantasy football. Writes Adweek, “At these bigger websites, according to media buyers, fantasy buys can range from $750,000 for real estate on high-traffic data and news pages to $3 million for a full-season presenting sponsorship."
That’s a lot more long-lasting bang for the buck.
Frequency Is King
With the focus on real-time marketing, everyone is getting in on timely messaging on social media. That means the news cycle is getting shorter and shorter, and the frequency of your messaging getting through is of increasing importance.
Fantasy football provides your brand many, many opportunities throughout the season and over the course of a week to interact with participants. This also means you have more room to find a way to interact that resonates with your brand.
The research also seems to show that fantasy football participants are desirable consumers.
According to Ipsos research: "It is also interesting to note that college educated, full-time employees are more likely to take part in fantasy sports than their less educated and lesser employed counterparts in both the United States and Canada."
A study by Ipsos and the Fantasy Sports Research Group in 2012 found that: "On average, fantasy sports players spend $95 on league related costs, single player challenge games, and league related materials over a 12 month period." That speaks to disposable income.
This all reads like a clear-cut touchdown to me – no official review needed.
Most fantasy football drafts will happen in mid- to late-August, and participants will begin researching players a month before that. So, you have about five months to enact your social media strategy and take part in the biggest social football event of the year.