The need for instant gratification has produced an entirely new industry in the still-growing field of fantasy sports competitions.
There is an ongoing and highly lucrative battle between two companies that engage in daily fantasy sports play. FanDuel and Draft Kings are the top two companies in a field that allows competitors to create rosters in their favorite sports on a daily basis.
This is different than the previous form of fantasy sports play, which required involvement for an entire season. Back in the day (which means anything preceding 2009, and going back to the mid-1980s), a player would pick a roster from all of the players competing in a sport. That “team’’ would compete against other teams in the league, with victory determined by individual statistics compiled by the players on your team.
Such fantasy play is still going great guns. Every new generation of computer users with an interest in sports can create a league on their own, using templates offered by numerous sports sites, including ESPN and Yahoo! Sports.
But that is old hat, at least for the real hardcore fantasy players.
Today, some fans have become professional fantasy players, making hundreds of thousands of dollars playing against like-interested competitors on the daily game sites. The payoff is immediate, which we love in today’s society, and the disappointment of a bad day or bad week can be replaced by an entirely new roster of players the next day (rather than having to wait a full year for the annual draft day).
Here is how successful these endeavors are for the companies sponsoring the games:
Draft Kings recently received $300 million in funding from Fox sports in conjunction with Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and Major League soccer. Draft Kings, owned by three Boston-based friends, is expected to award winners as much as $1 billion in prizes in 2015.
FanDuel, started by five friends back in 2009, has recently raised $275 million from investors, including companies aligned with google, Comcast and Time Warner.
How pervasive is fantasy sports play?
According to Fantasy Sports Trade Association, there were 56.8 million people playing fantasy sports in the world in 2014. That was an increase of 37 percent (37 percent!) from 2013.
At the end of 2014, FanDuel reported $620 million in entry fees from competitors and one million paying users. Draft Kings reported $300 million in fees and 300,000 users.
The daily players are certainly cutting into the business of the season-long fantasy leagues. ESPN, owned by Walt Disney Co., formed a partnership with Draft Kings to be its official provider of daily fantasy sports games. Yahoo! Is getting into the game with its own Yahoo! Sports Daily Fantasy game.
According to the FSTA, 66 percent of fantasy sports players are male. That means 34 percent are female, and apparently that percentage has been climbing over the years. Women tend to play the season-long games rather than get involved in the seemingly more competitive daily games, which require a heavier concentration of statistical knowledge.
Here are two other factors regarding fantasy sports that requires consideration.
Some federal and state regulators are considering whether these games are a form of online gambling. For this consideration, the question is whether they are games of chance or games of skill.
And, according to the consulting firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, this NFL season will cost employers $16 billion in lost wages from employees playing the games, updating rosters and watching informational websites.
The FSTA says of the almost 57 million fantasy sports players, two-thirds are employed full-time.
Of course, “employed’’ and “working’’ are two different words.