News & Thinking

Is this the real life? Or is this just Fantasy?

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Blurred image of a full football stadium at night time. News 6 Jan

Wildcards, Trades, Bench Boosts, Waivers and Triple Captains – for a lot of people these are just a collection of words with little to no meaning. But for millions worldwide, these are a part of a repertoire that underpins a significant part of their weekly activity.

Fantasy Sports allows users to emulate the role of a coach or a manager of a team, with the power to drop, recruit, or trade a player of their choice… For some, it is about deeper engagement with the sports, beyond viewership, while for others, it is about the competition and strategy that it involves.’

In recent years, there has also been the introduction of Daily Fantasy Sports games, which take place over a much shorter period, rather than a full season.

The growth of Fantasy Sports

The fantasy sports industry in the UK has seen significant growth in the past two decades; with, the Fantasy Premier League (based on England’s Premier League), having increased its number of users by 13,000% (yes, thirteen thousand per cent!) since beginning two decades ago. It has grown to become the biggest Fantasy game in the world for Association Football with now around 10 million players worldwide.

The potential for growth for Fantasy Sports leagues centred around the English Premier League is seismic, with recent data showing that the league is the fourth most popular sporting competition in the world.

The rise in popularity for both the English Premier League and Fantasy Sports itself has opened up new opportunities for companies across the sporting sector to begin reaping the rewards from Fantasy Sports.

However, this growth seems minimal when compared to India, which is quickly becoming the largest Fantasy Sports market in the world, currently boasting 200 operating companies and around 130 million Indian users. The market size currently is estimated to be around $4 billion, with a medium-term CAGR of around 38%.

The impact on the wider sporting landscape

Beyond the financials, however, there is a sense that Fantasy Sports are having a profound effect on the sports and entertainment industry as a whole. In a recent study in India60% of Fantasy Sports users claimed to start watching more sports as a result of building a deeper level of active engagement. Furthermore, 59% of Fantasy sports users have claimed they have started watching new sports because of Fantasy, 70% strongly agreed that their sports knowledge and viewing time have increased and 83% strongly agreed that sports have become more enjoyable.

The opportunities, therefore, lie not only for the Fantasy Sports operators themselves but for the leagues, broadcasters and media outlets too.

The impact on the US and iGaming industry

Despite this, the UK and India are still relatively infants in their Fantasy Sports development. The US saw the birth of Fantasy Sports in 1962 and therefore has, over time, developed a highly contested market across multiple sports.

With around 15% of US adults over the age of 21 saying that they have played at least once in the past 12 months, Fantasy Sports have cemented themselves as omnipresent in the highly-profitable ecosystem of American sports.

As whilst in the UK, iGaming operators such as SkyBetBet365 and William Hillare only just starting to realise and capitalise on the potential of Fantasy Sports, this is now the norm in the US. As real-money sports betting was largely prohibited under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, Fantasy had previously filled the void of providing an added layer of entertainment to the sporting experience.

With various states in the US now looking to remove prohibitions on gambling, this has resulted in a dynamic whereby companies established in the Fantasy Sports scene have already cemented control over the iGaming market.

FanDuel and Draft Kings both rose to prominence around a decade ago and have since built themselves a duopoly over the Fantasy Sports market in the US. With Daily Fantasy Sports games becoming ever-more popular and profitable, both brands have expanded, currently accounting for more than 90% of the market share in the US for Daily FantasyAnd with the North American Fantasy Sports market set to grow at a CAGR of 10.7%, it is likely FanDuel and Draft Kings will only tighten their grip.

So, what is the impact this is having on the US’s developing and desirable (reaching almost $53bn in 2021) gambling industry?

According to iGaming NEXTFanDuel has positioned itself as the market leader in 2022 with a 51% GGR market share across its 15 operating online sports betting markets.

A significant proportion of this success can be attributed to Fantasy Sports as an estimated 60% of FanDuel’s Daily Fantasy players have also played a bet with FanDuel’s sportsbook offering. Upon seeing this success, it is therefore no surprise that iGaming brands in the UK are looking to strengthen their fantasy offering to drive higher revenues.

As mentioned throughout, the opportunities to profit from the growth in popularity of Fantasy Sports are seemingly ceaseless and are not just for the benefit of Fantasy Sports operators.

Fantasy Sports is continuously having an immense impact on the sports industry as a whole. As seen in India, Fantasy Sports are driving enhanced fandom, with fans now watching and engaging with more sports than ever. Broadcasters, media outlets, hospitality providers and iGaming platforms are all in a position to benefit from this.

If you’re interested in learning more about Fantasy Sports and how it could help your business, get in touch with the Sport team at MTM (, who would be more than happy to help.

Matthew Cotter
6 January, 2023