The Fantasy eSports League – This Peripheral Sports Market with Huge Stakes
It is a little known environment in France, a “business” still underdeveloped and yet, the prospects are enormous. For example, the Fantasy eSports League, as they are more commonly called on the other side of the Atlantic, generates in the United States an annual turnover of more than 3 billion dollars, only taking into account the amounts spent by players. In France, if the principle is not new, the market is not mature even though the interactivity offered by Web 2.0 is ideal for its practice and its expansion.
What is the Fantasy eSports League?
The Fantasy eSports League has many different concepts, and many sports have perfectly adapted to it (football, football, basketball, ice hockey, baseball, cricket). If a definition had to be attached to it, it would have to be said that Fantasy eSports League are virtual sports leagues played on the Internet covering a wide range of collective and individual sports. Its guiding principle is as follows: a league consists of several players who can play the role of coach of a team, each player being in charge of the composition of his team. With predefined finances or a virtual budget, it can interact with other participants and negotiate a sale or acquisition of players. Every day, his team receives a certain number of points, which varies according to the performances of the players who make up his team. In football, for example, points can fluctuate depending on the number of goals scored, the number of assists made or the average score received by each footballer who makes up his team.
The goal of the game is simple: to become the best virtual coach of the season by accumulating the maximum points allowed. The rewards in play can be multiple: gifts, money or more simply the pride of having beaten his friends because it is the communal aspect of the “Fantasy League” that makes the strength of the concept.
The Fantasy eSports League: an American sport, a colossal business
The Fantasy eSports League is part of North American culture. While the strong taste for online gambling and betting among these populations is certain, the Fantasy League concept is also perfectly associated with the “cult of statistics” that surrounds our sports. While the concept may at first glance make you smile, its practice is now part of North American culture. So much so that the American channel FX created in 2009 the series “The League” which follows the life of 5 thirty-year-old members of one of these leagues (proof of its success, the series has been renewed for a 6th season).
But above all, there is a huge economic market behind all of this, and the revenues generated are dreamy. In 2013, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) estimates that 33.5 million Americans played Fantasy League. In Canada, they were 3.1 million players, which represents each of the two countries, about 10% of their total population.
The market is so mature that the average player profile of Fantasy League is known:
- 80% of the players are men
- 5% of players are not married
- The average age of players is 34
- 1% of players have a university degree
- On average, the Fantasy League player has been doing this activity for more than 9 years.
- The average player “consumes” nearly 18 hours of sports per week
- A player spends on average nearly 9 hours each week playing in one or more Fantasy league »
- Finally, the most popular sport in the Fantasy League is American football (69.4% of the activity), which is by far the most popular sport in the United States.
Above all, 46.9% of players participate in paying “League” and spend an average of $ 111 per year (about €73). We are talking about a market of 3.6 billion dollars (2.6 billion euros) in the United States alone, excluding advertising revenue from each host site.
In France, is the market potential real ?
Although this concept is not unknown in France, it is clear that the French are, in general, still not very keen on this practice. The absence of a real culture of sports fans in France compared to the anglo-saxons can explain in the first place this relative anonymity. To this is added the fact that participation in a “Fantasy League” is for the moment only envisaged in France, from the point of view of gratuitousness or almost gratuitousness
Yet, sensing the good news, the sites have multiplied and become more professional in an attempt to reproduce here the success of the Fantasy League in North America. Thus, many companies are now trying to accustom the French to the sport simply by their presence on the market and through agreements with the main players in the French sports movement. Moreover, the institutions of professional sport, aware of the issues behind this peripheral market, have decided to try the bet. For example, the Professional Football League (in partnership with Yahoo), the National Rugby League (in partnership with the PMU) and the National Basketball League, to name but a few, have launched their specific platform.
While it is still difficult to predict the real success that sports aficionados reserve for the “Fantasy League” in France, it is clear that the bet is worth the effort and that the game is certainly worth the effort.