Honestly, it feels a bit odd to say that fantasy sports players are becoming lazy, as if a couch-based activity was ever very active in the first place. But it’s just the truth of the industry that as more people start to join in, the percent of passionate players is diminishing.
As of this writing, there are 59.3 million fantasy sports players between the U.S. and Canada alone (per FSTA research). Since most of these players aren’t passionate enough about fantasy sports to do their own research and analysis, they often turn to online resources to help them make decisions.
The Fantasy Sports Trade Association concluded that in 2016, the average fantasy sports player spent $54 on league-related materials to help them improve their game. Compare this to an average of $15 per player in 2012 and it becomes apparent that an increasing number of people are turning to online resources to do their analysis for them.
A Bit of History
When fantasy sports emerged in the mid-1900’s, it was filled with die-hard sports fans who wanted to take their engagement to the next level. They already spent most of their free time thinking about sports and analyzing player stats, so they decided to take it one step further. They would keep track of their own statistics on paper, analyze the stats themselves, and draft players on their own intuition – needless to say, this passion and dedication for the game of fantasy sports is slowly dying.
When fantasy sports became computerized and was introduced to the internet, the game took an interesting turn. Statistics providers realized the potential of their product and spread player stats across the internet for quick and easy access; companies developed fantasy sports platforms to automatically manage your teams and track your player statistics; fantasy experts created strategy websites, like Fantasy Victors, to teach others their proven approach to the game.
The opportunity to make money was instantly recognized by the industry leaders, and the monetization of fantasy sports began.
Daily Fantasy Sports Answers the Call for Monetization
Like most things, the industry chose to follow the money instead of the passion. This meant the game needed to appeal to the masses instead of just the traditional sports fans. And the answer was Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS).
Instead of having to commit to a full season of fantasy analysis and team management, DFS allows players to create a team for one day with no extended commitment. Set your lineup once, compete against others for a night, and move on. It was the perfect way to involve those ‘less interested’ fantasy sports players and grow the fantasy sports industry.
Since daily fantasy sports games require an entry fee to play, the industry revenue began to grow exponentially. The FSTA reports that from 2012 to 2016, the average fantasy player increased their annual DFS spending from $5 to $318. Compare this to the average traditional fantasy player that progressed from $60 to $184 over the same period, and you can understand why DFS has become the industry focus.
The Emergence of DFS Tools
Daily fantasy sports has a decent mix of casual fantasy players and industry experts. To nobody’s surprise the experts began to dominate in DFS and casual fantasy players needed a way to level the playing field. So once again, the fantasy sports industry responded with an easy way out for those who don’t want to do their own research.
Using advanced mathematical algorithms, a few different companies came out with something called a ‘lineup optimizer.’ When you build your lineup in daily fantasy sports, the goal is to maximize your team’s potential while remaining under a preset salary cap. You can choose any combination of player’s you would like, as long as you don’t exceed the salary limitations. As the name suggests, a lineup optimizer is a tool for DFS players to essentially press ‘go’ and get a theoretically perfect lineup in return.
These tools are becoming more and more sophisticated, providing options far more advanced than just pressing ‘go.’ Many of the best tools, like the optimizers shown here, are making it easier to incorporate complex strategies into lineups.
Once again, we see the industry trending towards ease and simplicity instead of complexity. As the industry progresses into its next few phases, it will be interesting to see just how lazy the laziest sport can become.