Living the Dream: Researching the Fantasy Sports Services Industry using resources available to Wharton students

In the U.S., Fantasy Sports Services comprise a billion dollar industry with hundreds of component companies . Like many new industries consisting mainly of small private companies, data on the industry and its companies is allusive. Similar problems are encountered in researching such industries as Tattoo Parlors, Online Dating  and Mobile Apps.

The Lippincott sources for Wharton students described below will give you a good start in researching the Fantasy Sports industry and its companies

dailyfantasysportsreviewA recent IBISWorld  report on the industry gives this definition:This industry develops software and markets an online platform for multiplayer fantasy sports. Fantasy sports are games where participants act as general managers to build teams that compete against other fantasy owners based on the statistics generated by real individual players or professional teams. The most common variation converts statistical performance into points that are compiled and totaled according to a roster selected by a manager that makes up a fantasy team.

IBIS estimates that the industry had revenues of  1.4 Billion dollars in 2013. Some estimate this industry to be worth much more.  According to an article  in Forbes (August 2013) Brian Goff estimated the value of the industry at $70 billion!   According to Goff, the FSTA estimates that 32 million Americans spend $467 per person or about $15 billion in total playing. If you include the value of time spent playing in terms of wages as well as the wages of the players, plus ad revenues and expenditures, he states that the industry amounts to anywhere from 40 billion to 70 billion a year.  His point is that the “derivative market  may be worth more than the foundational market”.

IBISWorld  analysts state the growth rate from 2009-2014 was over 12% and forecasts a growth of 7% through 2019.  Advertising and Sponsorship are the primary revenue sources.


According to IBIS, the major companies in the industry are divisions of Yahoo, ESPN and CBS. Taken together, they comprise about 40% of the market share.

SBRNet, Sports Business Research Network, provides Fantasy Sport demographics as well as news stories regarding sponsorships and other topics.  According to the news service, there is now a Fantasy Sports TV Channel.  TVSM Daily announced in July that “DirecTV will launch a channel dedicated to fantasy football as part of its Sunday Ticket package covering the NFL American football league”.  Anthem Media also provides a tv channel.


Business & Industry and Promt both index news from trade publications.  Search for fantasy sports or fantasy football.  Results will include news regarding recent deals, acquisitions and products.  Many of the company are small and hard to track.  These resources help you to discover what is happening in the industry.

Business Source Complete and ABI-Inform cover business periodicals and scholarly publications. Try searches such as:  marketing strategy and fantasy sports. Then use the available filters to limit results to Scholarly Publications only.  The full text of books are also included.   One example is  Marketing Strategy for Sports, chapter 5: Marketing for Fantasy Sports ( Richard K. Miller and Kelli Washington 2014)   In ABI-Inform, searching by subject heading “fantasy sport” and changing the results display to Oldest Date First pulls up articles from the Wall Street Journal and other sources indicating the industry really began to change from a cottage industry to big business in the mid-1990s with the rise in access to the internet.

Social Media is used by many Fantasy Sports fans.

 EMarketer is a good resource for finding demographic profiles of internet and social media users.  eMarketer_Demographic_Profile_of_US_Internet_Users_Who_Play_Fantasy_Sports_May_2014_175229

In addition to statistical information, EMarketer also provides reports and news such the interview in April 2014 with Lenovo Director of Advertising and Marketing Services, explaining their strategy to reach Millennials by creating a video program for sports fantasy fans.  Lenovo had determined that these fans are extremely passionate about their sport. Lenovo hoped to grab some of that passion.  The series was so popular a new season is planned for 2014.

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Associations are also good sources of information.


The Fantasy Sports Trade Association keeps track of fan demographics, writes research reports (for purchase) and covers news.

The Fantasy Sports Writers Association supports journalist covering this industry.

All of the resources described above can be used for analyzing actual sports franchises, if you prefer the real thing.

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