While newspapers, sports journalists, and some in the legal trades have been arguing that fantasy sports will die “soon”, the truth has gone in very much the opposite direction.
Over the last few years, fantasy sports have grown to tremendous levels. More and more entrepreneurs and startups want to get their hands in the game and they have come up with plenty of creative solutions to do so.
First things first: fantasy sports are inseparable from the real deal
For years now, the fantasy component of leagues like the NFL has been an integral, almost internal part of experience. There are actual players out there whose names may have never been heard if fantasy sports were not such a big deal, for instance.
The younger generation may not even realize that there was a past where fantasy sports were the domain of a few individuals only, a pastime that, exciting as it might have been, was nothing like the industry of today.
Of course, the older generation might be able to see that much more clearly. Before all of this, you simply had a favorite team who you perhaps followed almost religiously. You might watch some other games too and you quite possibly knew the scores or at least results of the rest of the league.
However, you knew practically nothing about the best players from each team. Even more importantly, there was no reason for you to know the names of players from teams which have nothing to do with your own.
Today, all of that has changed. Fantasy sports have become such a huge part of the experience that you might be invested in them even if you are not actually a huge sports fan, something that would be inconceivable a few years ago.
Daily fantasy sports changed the rules of the game
While fantasy sports were still growing, they were mostly played alongside friends, family, and colleagues over the course of an entire season without much daily input.
Then, companies like FanDuel and DraftKings started to make an appearance. After huge marketing campaigns and fanfare, they have now become multi-billion-dollar companies which have attracted incredible numbers of users.
All of a sudden, fantasy sports were not a casual thing any more. The monetary component became a very real influencer and the fact that you could simply change your decisions and lineups very often was enough to convince most people to make an investment.
In North America alone, there are more than 60 million people invested in fantasy sports one way or another. Of those, a good dozen or more are concerned with daily fantasy sports and that number is only going to keep growing.
International expansions are already well-underway too. Expanding daily fantasy sports in other countries carries with it a certain set of challenges, such as making sure that laws and regulations can be followed, but the interest is definitely there.
Fantasy sports have grown to a respectable industry
If you have been involved in fantasy sports for more than a couple of years, then you will have seen first-hand just how much the landscape has changed throughout the years.
Gone are the days where everyone had to do their own research, often spending considerable time trying to find the next best player, gathering and analyzing statistics, and generally attempting to get one over their opponents in the fantasy league.
Today, there are companies who will even do the hard work for you, allowing you to simply make informed choices with as much data as you can handle. For instance, Fantasy Advantage can instantly show you the top three players for each position each and every day while providing you with detailed statistics and projections from the best sports analysts.
The company, which was founded by ex-Googlers Rotem Haber&Or Lifshitz , aims to help the casual sports fan pick winning line-ups in daily fantasy sports in the US. Their service uses machine learning algorithms which process millions of data points web-wide.
Players of fantasy leagues still need to make use of that data on their own but startups like that showcase that fantasy sports have grown outside of friendly competitions to powerful industries where data reigns king.
The future might be uncertain, but only in a positive way
The face of fantasy sports changes every day. While the future may well be uncertain, it’s not doomed as some had previously predicted.
Instead, new startups and services may simply change the way we approach fantasy sports. Win-Win, for example, wants to forego the monetary component and focus on experiences instead, allowing winners to receive things like signed items or dinners with athletes.
Such changes will be welcome in the industry. Despite any regulations that might happen over the next few years, fantasy sports have become such a huge part of every major league that it would be impossible to imagine life without them.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.