The Football Event Bigger Than Super Bowl

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:

  • 24,480,000 fantasy football players in the U.S. and Canada (2009-2010 Fantasy Sports Research Group and IPSOS study)
  • 307,222,076 Household Population of U.S. (U.S. Census Bureau, estimated February 2013) and 34,482,779 population of Canada (World Bank, 2013)
  • 14% of the population is under 10 years old (U.S. Census Bureau, current population survey 2011)

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.

Good Demographics

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.

5 comments about "The Football Event Bigger Than Super Bowl".
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  1. Harold Cabezas from Cabezas Communications, March 6, 2013 at 5:48 p.m.

    So on-point!!

  2. Brian Hayashi from ConnectMe 360, March 6, 2013 at 5:52 p.m.

    Fantasy football is an interesting proxy for gamification. When I worked for the cable industry, some of my peers worked on the first TV shows aimed at this genre, and years later, we would invest in some of the companies that would go on to be online sports giants. As @ffootball on Twitter, I've been leading a secret life looking at this transactional world: can you create a program that turns real-world transactions into fantasy dollars? For example, every dollar you spend at WalMart could turn into $100 fantasy dollars to help you get an even better athlete on your team...but if you buy a certain pair of sneakers, that's good for $1MM fantasy dollars. Talk about bragging rights!

  3. Kory Kredit from Connection Point Interactive, March 6, 2013 at 6:04 p.m.

    Back in the late 90's I I worked at Sandox Entertainment, one of the pioneers of online fantasy football. We developed FF for Yahoo, SI, Fox Sports & others. It was a great model to attract eyeballs and pageviews even back then, but there were no advertising dollars for FF yet. It pains me to see the dollar figures you listed that are now associated with FF sponsorships. If only we had those ad revenue dollars back then...I'd be retired & living on an island somewhere. It was still fun though!

  4. Stan Valinski from Multi-Media Solutions Group, March 7, 2013 at 10:14 a.m.

    Good old sandbox...truly the pioneer. I have been working on the launch of Suicide Fantasy Football for a year. It is highly competitive. However the whole game changed when FanDuel, from England, entered the fray with $7 million in VC last season...apparently it worked they just announced 11 million more. They will own the betting aspect of the genre.

  5. Chad Little from, March 8, 2013 at 8:52 a.m.

    my biggest regret kory - we had awesome products at sandbox - we would have dominated...woulda coulda shoulda...:-D

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