What’s the State of Play for Fantasy Sports in 2023?
Fantasy sports has always been a popular source of entertainment among fans of Major League sports. It’s an opportunity for fans to feed their egos and prove their sporting knowledge against friends, loved ones or even complete strangers. According to Codiant, there are 56.8 million active fantasy sports players worldwide.
With such a strong customer base, it’s no surprise that many market research firms are bullish about its prospects in the coming years. MarketWatch believes daily fantasy sports (DFS) hold the key to much of the sector’s growth between 2023-2026. It believes DFS market revenue will peak in 2026.
With attention spans dwindling and generations of sports fans growing more time-poor than ever before, the chance to enter fantasy sports tournaments without the need for a season-long commitment has been a huge boon for the industry.
The likes of DraftKings and FanDuel have pioneered the DFS scene, giving sports enthusiasts the chance to enter tournaments ad-hoc when their spare time and disposable income allows. DFS allows fans to be agile and change their line-ups week by week, based on form and assessments of player match-ups in future game weeks. DraftKings has also upped its game more recently by entering the fully fledged sports betting market. It’s already licensed in 17 US states and is now considered by OddsChecker to be the leading choice based on the caliber of its welcome promotions, its user experience and bettor security. Having innovated in the DFS market, it’s clear DraftKings had the underlying technology to evolve into a powerful online sportsbook.
Although DraftKings and FanDuel have diversified their service offerings, that doesn’t mean they’re not serious about driving the fantasy sports industry forward. There are many exciting trends in the offing that are expected to take the engagement and immersion of fantasy sports to a new level for players.
The emerging Indian fantasy sports market
In 2017, well over half (58%) of active fantasy sports players were based in the US. Europe has often ranked second in terms of fantasy sports market share, but there is another region that’s fast becoming a goldmine for fantasy sports operators. India is one of the fastest-growing regions for fantasy sports, with approximately 60+ platforms jockeying for the custom of Indian sports fans.
Between 2016 and 2018, the number of active Indian fantasy sports players soared from two million to 20 million. Last year, the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) claimed that the subcontinent now boasted the biggest user base worldwide, underpinned by cricket fantasy sports, which is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30% right now.
Blockchain is improving operational efficiencies
The immutable nature of blockchain technology lends itself perfectly to the world of fantasy sports. With the ability to define rules within blockchain contracts, fantasy sports team selections will increasingly be submitted to an operator’s public ledger. From this ledger, the performance of players within each squad will accrue points in line with the terms defined in each blockchain contract. It’s a fully decentralized way of taking fantasy sports firmly into the 21st century. Sorare is one such operator that’s already fusing fantasy sports services with blockchain technology.
Augmented reality to drive the immersivity of fantasy sports
Fantasy sports operators are also on the cusp of integrating augmented reality (AR) technology to provide an additional layer of immersion. Brands are weighing up the use of AR within their fantasy sports apps, overlaying in-play data on individual players to help players keep track of their selections. US-based AR Sports recently secured patents for fantasy sports player acquisitions and in-game action.
The demand for non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
Sticking with the blockchain theme, NFTs have been a key source of interest, allowing individuals to purchase and own a unique piece of digital content. Even fantasy sports operators are getting in on the act with NFTs for players. TradeStars is already offering NFTs of athletes with their real-time performance statistics tokenized on the blockchain.
It’s a very exciting time for fantasy sports. With more real-time data at our fingertips than ever before, it’s easier than ever for well-informed fantasy sports players to find an edge and feed their sporting passions.