Does A Ref Make At The Super Bowl Football Game Fantasy Football – A Lesson In Monetizing Anything

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Fantasy Football – A Lesson In Monetizing Anything

Attention entrepreneurial souls – the following would have sounded as fictional as Star Wars to our grandfathers, not to mention Vince Lombardi. However, this is all true and there is a valuable lesson in this – you can earn anything!

Kudos to the NFL. They have found a way to keep a large fan base despite the numerous off field issues that seem to shut them down weekly. The 2012 referee strike and unfair substitution? Forget it – that didn’t even register on an NFL fan’s “Things to Care About List.” How can this happen? This is a league in which popular players have recently been convicted or found guilty of domestic violence, rape, child abuse and murder. Nice guys, huh? In short, there’s nothing we can do every Thursday, Sunday and Monday (in my life, I’m sure there’s a game every night of the week). TV ratings suggest that this monster is really big.

So why do we do it? We don’t really care who wins or loses the actual game. Some of us do, but we are now in the minority. No, win-loss is not another reason either. Sports gambling, although illegal in most states, ranked the NFL high on sports fans’ lists. People gamble nearly $10 billion on the Super Bowl alone. Imagine what a full season brings. The joke used to be “Daddy’s favorite team is the Dolphins and they want to win by less than 4 points.” However, because gambling has such a negative connotation in society, people don’t talk about it much, and certainly not when they lose.

Gambling’s photo negative appears to be what helped the NFL remain king of the hill indefinitely. This is fantasy football, and it’s almost to the point where we can take the word “fantasy” out of the name. It’s very real and it’s here to stay. Gambling is illegal because it is considered a “game of chance”. Fantasy football is legal to play on because it is considered a “game of skill” (don’t ask me who decides these things, but it’s true). Gambling is ugly because it can ruin people’s lives when they lose. Fantasy football is innocent and fun, even if it costs the same amount to participate and yes, half of it is lost. Gambling is all about money. With fantasy football, there’s money, but also fun team names, trophies and bragging rights. It’s market rules versus social rules, once again. Unless you live in one of the few states where gambling is legal, it involves connecting with people with gambling connections. All you need to participate in fantasy football is an internet connection and a $1 investment.

Fantasy football’s roots can be traced back to the 1960s, but it was a different world. Over the last 10 years, thanks entirely to the Internet, it took off and became a craze… and a serious business. Nearly 40 million Americans are playing some form of fantasy football this year, and they’re spending an estimated $2 billion to do so, but that’s just the beginning. When you consider the industry as a whole, the fantasy football empire is estimated to be over $50 billion! And it will continue to grow. Everyone is doing it. I play, my friends play. Heck, even NFL players play! Just this week, an NFL player tweeted “I’m probably going to miss my fantasy football game this week because (Adrian Peterson) can’t play Sunday to discipline his son…” Really.

You won’t hear announcers talk about point spreads, but they frequently refer to hypothetical statistics. A crawl at the bottom of the TV screen is now dedicated to the new national pastime. As big as the NFL has become, it recognizes that it needs a fantasy football element to keep its brand healthy, so it goes out of its way to promote it. There have been magazines, books, radio programs and TV shows, and even a TV series based on a group of friends bound together by their fantasy football league. Only in America!

Online fantasy football sites are making money by capitalizing on the popularity of this “game of skill”. One of the most popular sites boasts that it pays out over $10 million per week. Given that they are cleverly charging 10% on every dollar to facilitate thousands of contests between strangers, it’s easy to calculate how a company like this can become millions almost overnight. And it’s not just NFL football. Most of these sites provide forums for “fantasy” baseball, hockey, basketball, golf and major college sports.

The lesson in all of this is simple – if you build a site, they will come, and they will come with dollars to spend. Find a product that people are crazy about and make it available to them online, in any format you can. If you don’t have a product yourself, write a book about it. If you don’t want to write a book, write an article and sell it. Position yourself as the “expert” (anyone asking that question), and you’ll set the price.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. It’s almost game time and I have to move the ball up the field to the 30 for my kicker’s offense and then stop. Oddly enough, this is fantasy football.

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