How Fantasy Football is Emerging as an Even Larger Industry than the NFL Itself

Before the Internet made fantasy football a nationwide phenomenon, people would check the sports section of their Monday morning papers to tally up box scores. Fantasy football was not recognized as the enormous industry that it is today. As sports industry giants like ESPN and Yahoo! began to expand their online presence, there became increased demand for online fantasy football servers. As fantasy football grew more and more commonplace, ESPN and NFL Network began to create shows focusing around fantasy football. Fantasy expanded beyond just football to other sports, such as baseball and basketball. Fantasy sports became their own revolution in the sporting world.

For those who are not familiar with the concept, in fantasy football, roughly 8-12 people will join a league. Each player will serve as a team manager. They draft their team at the beginning of the season, creating a lineup featuring running backs, wide receivers, quarterbacks, tight ends, and in some formats, defensive players. Then they compete with other team managers each week, compile a win-loss record. Managers can add, drop, and trade players as they see fit. Eventually, they advance to playoffs and the championship games, with the goal of becoming the league champion.

What started as such a simple concept has ballooned into a multi-billion dollar industry. According the the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, approximately 32 million people spend $467 per person each year, which comes out to roughly $15 billion. Meanwhile, the NFL's annual revenue is just under $10 billion each year. This subsidiary industry has actually grown larger than the primary one.

The MLB was recently denied copyright status over their players and statistics by the Supreme Court's 8th Circuit. Considering the size of the industry, the royalties that the NFL could receive off of the use of its players are substantial. It's imperative that NFL find another way to capitalize on this rapidly growing industry, as the profit potential would be great for their already enormous market share.

-Abhishek Parekh