Being permanently connected and consuming sport via different devices not only increases the overall aspect of virtual socialization, but also allows the leagues, clubs, media, sponsors and data providers to engage with fans in many different ways. Nevertheless, are fantasy sports games a fan engagement tool? The following points prove this hypothesis:
- Overall fanbase growth – The fact that fans can follow different sports/leagues/matches at the same time, and compete and interact with their friends, colleagues or random players from all around the globe, increases their overall interest in more sports, competitions and players, which is a very positive sign for the real-life leagues.
- Big data & stats optimization – It is no secret that fantasy sports games are based on data and stats, so the integration of data providers such as OPTA or STATS into the fantasy sports games presented an opportunity to offer players first-hand and live experience of actual data during the games. On the other hand, the leagues and/or several sports companies have the opportunity to analyse fans’ behaviour, to predict their buying habits & preferences and to help the integration of their partners/sponsors through the official websites, apps and chats.
- Media coverage – The increased popularity of fantasy sports games among fans aroused the interest of several media channels. Various fantasy sports TV shows, newspapers columns, blogs or forums where “experts” forecast upcoming trends have been created over the last few years. Moreover, different competitions have started their own channels to dedicate more and more space to fantasy sports games. In the case of the Fantasy Premier League, for example, a channel was created with the purpose of producing engaging content in the form of tips and hints about the upcoming matchday. Similarly, the NHL is publishing weekly fantasy rankings to help fantasy players to pick the best possible line-up.
- Player involvement – The phenomenon of fantasy sports games convinced many real-life players to participate. Many Premier League players have their own teams in fantasy premier leagues and these players are often engaging with fans through providing their own pick suggestions and hints, either via official league channels or their own social media channels.
- Deeper sponsor integration – According to the Nielsen report & the FSTA, 89% of fantasy sports games users are logging into the game platform or the official app at least once per month. The average time spent on the platform is approximately 40 minutes, which provides enough time for the league and its official partners to engage. It is up to the brands to come up with innovative ways of how to activate their agreements with those leagues and find a way to engage with fans. One example could be the Fantasy Premier League and EA Sports. The top picks of the week were announced through the FIFA game.
- Expansion – For a regular player of fantasy sports games, there is a higher probability to try different sports as well, which gives other sports a huge opportunity to expand their fanbases. The results of the pilot research showed that many players who started with one sport like football later continued with other sports like American football, basketball, hockey or cycling (Fantasy Tour de France has been growing its overall number of participants each year).
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the new world of fantasy sports games. Brace yourself because this phenomenon is only just starting to realize its potential and it will keep growing.
Have you already picked your sport, registered your team, created the league and invited your friends and colleagues? What are you waiting for?