Why fantasy football is one of the most lucrative make-believe games in the world (By Ben Shamah)

Why Do We Play Fantasy Football?

Roughly 33 million people indulge themselves in the predominantly agonizing experience of watching several insignificant rushing yards on a random Monday night cost them hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars.  Why?  Because the rush of feeling like you are the general manager of your very own crudely named football team can make you feel like Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick fused into one super-human.  For this reason, ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, many sports websites, and the NFL itself realize that fantasy football is not something that people only think about for 9 hours on Sunday and scattered weeknights.  It becomes the focal point of many people’s lives (mine included) from the early draft-planning weeks of early August until the inevitably agonizing late weeks of the NFL regular season in December.

The Profitability of Fantasy Football – With Relation to the NFL

The NFL boasts out-of-market ratings that blow the other three major sports leagues (the MLB, NHL, and NBA) out of the water.  This means that people are exponentially more likely to watch NFL games in which they are not a fan of either team than they are to watch MLB, NHL, or NBA games in which they are not a fan of either team.  While this can be partially attributed to the fact that the NFL only plays one game per week, while the other teams play several per week, fantasy football plays a significant role.  Fantasy football is by far the most played and cared-about fantasy sport, and that is why Patriots fans will watch an entire Raiders-Dolphins game on a Thursday night just to watch James Jones catch 4 passes.

The Profitability of Fantasy Football – With Relation to Major Sports Websites

ESPN has dedicated a substantial amount of full-time writers and analysts to fantasy football because they know people care.  ESPN, one of the most popular sites for fantasy football, is able to generate revenue through web banner advertisements, intermittent advertisements on daily fantasy football podcasts, and commercials during an on-air TV show called Fantasy Football Now.  ESPN uses well-targeted banner advertisements to generate considerable revenue.  Because of the massive amount of page views that ESPN fantasy football pages receive on a daily basis, these banner advertisements are very lucrative for ESPN.  Also, fantasy football expert (yes, there are many of those) Matthew Berry creates a podcast for ESPN every day which starts, ends, and is interspersed with advertisements.  All of the advertisements used on TV, the web banner advertisements, and the podcasts are targeted towards males ages 18-49, the main target demographic.  While it is unlikely that I will be using LegalZoom in the coming months, ESPN Fantasy Football will certainly be getting my page views every day from now through December.

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