Fantasy Sports Participation Up 3% From '16, But Football Numbers Down Again
The number of fantasy sports participants in the U.S. and Canada is up to 59.3 million, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, a 3% increase from last year as the business shows signs of resurgent growth following a period of legal and legislative turbulence for daily fantasy sports. The new research, developed with Ipsos Public Affairs and slated to be unveiled tomorrow at the FSTA’s summer conference in N.Y., improves from a 1% increase in participation between ’15 and ’16, but remains below double-digit percentage annual growth seen for much of the past decade. Fantasy football, the largest single driver of the fantasy sports business, actually declined for the third time in four years and is now played by 66% of the overall fantasy sports audience. However, that decrease was more than compensated for by steady growth in fantasy baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer. Fantasy baseball in particular is now played by 49% of all participants, up from 40% last year and 33% in ’13. That comes as shorter, more accessible forms of play have become more prevalent. The average number of fantasy teams owned by a typical player is now 9.7, up from 7.0 last year and more than twice the 4.7 teams owned on average from ’13. As in prior years, the Ipsos research founds that fantasy sports participants also had higher levels of average income and education than the general population. The research estimated the total size of the fantasy sports market at $7.2B, not counting league dues circulated within private leagues.