Another Indicator of the NFL's Growing Trouble: The Decline of Fantasy Football

Published on January 24, 2018 by Lewis Freeman  

Over the past few seasons, the NFL has taken a massive hit to its viewership for many reasons, some of them being out of their control. Could it be the officiating? NFL Red Zone offering a variety of games every Sunday? National Anthem protests? No one knows the true reason but it is looking to take a toll on the overall users of fantasy football during the NFL season.

NFL Viewership

Over the past few seasons, the NFL has taken a massive hit to its viewership for many reasons, some of them being out of their control. Could it be the officiating? NFL Red Zone offering a variety of games every Sunday? National Anthem protests? No one knows the true reason but it is looking to take a toll on the overall users of fantasy football during the NFL season.

Other questions of interest that were asked were ones such as the over-saturating market, post-season baseball and the Cubs winning the World Series, the controversy over concussions, and the decline in the quality of play on the field.

Fantasy Graph

Decline- By the Numbers

According to Sports Market Analytics, the number of season-long fantasy sports users has taken a dip from the 2015 to the 2016 season. The overall decline over users totaled at a shocking 4 million over just a year span. Over this same time period, NFL viewership has decline 11 percent. More importantly, it has declined 12 percent in the 18-49 demographics which is where most of the demographics for fantasy users are, the median age being 37 years old in 2015 and 35 years old in 2016.

Going through the numbers, the percentage of all NFL fans who participate in fantasy sports has declined from 16.0% to 13.9%. Even more surprisingly, user ship has declined tremendously for fans who have attended 4 or more NFL games that year with an 18.6% drop over the past year and a 4.7% drop in users who watched 12 or more games during the NFL season.

The percentage of fantasy football played by age group has only declined in 2 age demographics and has moved to the younger population. The age groups of 35-49 and 50-64 are the only two groups to see a decline within the past two year. The reason this is such a massive hit to the fantasy football world is that, the median age of fantasy football owners is their mid-30’s. We have also seen a decrease in the female ownership of fantasy football teams (most likely due to the domestic violence cases and how they are being handled), but an incline in male ownership of teams. Interestingly, fantasy football seems to be grow in the South.

Geographic Region Graph

Daily Fantasy Sports

There has also been an even more dramatic decrease in the participation in daily fantasy sports. Examples of these are Draft Kings and Fan Duel. The decline in this type of participation is over 5 million users over the year from the 2015 season to the 2016 season.

This is most likely due to the fact that some of these daily fantasy sports sites have been banned in states such as New York which you can see with the 6.7% decline in users per geographic region in the northeast part of the United States. The numbers show that many of the former daily users have now only started to play their respective daily fantasy game only a few times a week now.

Conclusion

Fantasy Football is one of the most played games in the entire country. It brings together the different jocks and nerds of the world and lets them have a common ground to try and show off their skills over the internet. If the NFL viewership continues to decline, I believe there will also be a steady decline with fantasy football users as well. The league must step up and meet the needs of the fans in order to have overall success both on the field and on the internet as well.

This blog post was written by Samford University student Lewis Freeman.

References

Lipsey, Richard. “Football-NFL: Season-Long Fantasy Sports Participation.” Sports Market Analytics, sportsmarketanalytics.com.ezproxy.samford.edu/research.aspx?subRID=995.