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Fantasy Big Leagues: How Fantasy Sports are Scoring with Users

3 minute read | November 2013

Between the return of professional football and the MLB playoffs, September was a busy month for sports fans. Sports websites attracted more than 87 million Americans and 36 million smartphone owners tapped into the action using a sports app.

Fantasy sports in particular have become big business since sprouting from a rotisserie, or owner simulation, game decades ago. The growth of this niche industry has also picked up momentum as technological advances in interfaces, devices and statistical data aggregation have allowed players a way to easily check scores, adjust rosters and trash talk from anywhere and on any device—that’s light years from having to hand-tabulate player stats in the years before the digital age.

During the second quarter of 2013, fantasy sports players were most likely to be male and between the ages 25-34 (49% and 72% more likely than the average U.S. internet user, respectively). Compared with the average adult online, fantasy sports players were also 21 percent more likely to be Asian-American, 12 percent more likely to have children and 7 percent more likely to make between $50,000 and $75,000.

A Demographic Profile of U.S. Fantasy Sports Players(Adult Internet Users, Q2 2013)

Demographic Audience Comp % Index vs. Online 18+
Female 31.6 59
Male 68.4 149
18-24 17.3 163
25-34 30.7 172
35-44 25.1 129
45-54 15.6 77
55-64 7.6 45
65+ 3.8 25
HHI: $25,000 – $49,999 22.4 95
HHI: $50,000 – $74,999 25.9 107
HHI: $75,000 – $99,999 16.8 96
HHI: $100,000+ 20.1 97
Married 50.6 91
Not Married 49.1 112
No Children 50.4 91
One+ Children 49.6 111
African-American 12.3 105
Asian-American 4.1 121
Hispanic 14.9 118
White 74.6 96
Read as: 68% of adult fantasy sports players online are male, 49% more likely to be male than the average U.S. adult online.
Source: Nielsen

So which sports sites and apps do fans draft when they’re looking to build their fantasy teams? Power rankings by Nielsen show that familiar names like ESPN and Yahoo! Sports are top picks among fantasy sports players.

Top 5 Sports websites among Fantasy Sports Players by Unique Audience In Q2 2013

Sports sites and Brands Unique Audience Index vs. Online 18+
Yahoo! Sports Websites 1,253,000 143
ESPN Digital Network 1,038,000 150
FOXSports.com on MSN (Network) 957,000 150
MLB.com 614,000 165
Big Lead Sports by FSV Network 609,000 165
Read as: During Q2 2013, 1.3 million adult fantasy sports players visited Yahoo! Sports Websites/Adult fantasy sports players online were 43% more likely to visit Yahoo! Sports Websites than the average U.S. adult internet user.
Source: Nielsen

Fantasy To-Go

Fantasy sports players are also taking their teams with them on the road, as more than 10 million Americans accessed fantasy football apps on their smartphones, up 15 percent from a year ago. Looking at the top fantasy football apps, Yahoo! and ESPN each had five million unique users, respectively, during September. Overall, fantasy football app users spent 2 hours 14 minutes per person, on average, using these smartphone apps during September 2013, and they opened them 27 times per person on average—that’s almost once a day

What Items are in Fantasy Players’ Online Shopping Cart?

Believe it or not, sports aren’t the only thing consuming fantasy players’ time online. Just like any other consumer, they shop online for a variety of products and are more likely than the average adult U.S. internet user to have shopped online for things like movie tickets (84% more likely), credit cards (67% more likely) and beer (49% more likely).

What are U.S. Fantasy Sports Players Shopping for Online?

Shopped Online in the Last 30 Days
(Adult Internet Users, Q2 2013)
Index vs. Online 18+
Beer 149
Cell Phones/Service 157
Clothes/Shoes/Accessories 118
New Credit Card 167
Event Tickets 158
Fitness and Diet Products 139
Home Electronics 160
Insurance (Any) 166
Movie Tickets 184
Deodorant 155
Read as: Adult fantasy sports players online are 57% more likely than the average U.S. adult online to have shopped online for cell phones/service.
Source: Nielsen

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