With the NFL season just getting underway with week one starting last Thursday and many more games being played on Sunday, NFL fans are more excited than ever for football to be back. After a 2020 season with no fans in the stands, there was a ton of excitement in the stadiums during week one. With this excitement and having fans back in the stadiums, the NFL is calling this season the “biggest season ever” and have used that quote on many commercials already. Football is a sport that is continuing to grow and gain more and more popularity. One of the biggest beneficiaries of the continuing growth of the NFL has been fantasy football.
Fantasy football is a game played amongst NFL fans who draft NFL players onto a team. The players’ performances then impact the scores of the fantasy football matchups. Essentially, if a player runs for a couple hundred yards, has a couple touchdowns or has quite a few receptions in their games, they will contribute a good amount of points to your team in your fantasy matchup for that week. Whoever gets more points in a matchup gets a win for that week and eventually, at the end of the season, there is a fantasy playoff for the top teams in the league based on record.
Now why has fantasy football become so popular over the last five to ten years? The biggest reason for the increasing popularity of fantasy football is that it gives football fans, whether extreme or casual, a sense of being a bigger part of the NFL season, rather than just watching. When a football fan has a fantasy team, it provides that fan with a new way to enjoy the NFL. Having a fantasy team gives fans players to root for when they may have never even paid attention to them without the fantasy team. This relationship between fans and their fantasy football team not only grows the fantasy football industry, but also helps grow the NFL. When NFL fans watch the players on their fantasy team, they watch more games and more teams than they usually would. On top of this, there are plenty of NFL fans who started watching football after one of their friends asked them to join a fantasy football league. Another industry that has benefited from fantasy football’s great increase in popularity has been the media in the NFL. With the popularity of fantasy football, NFL fans with fantasy teams need a source for their information. Things like what players to draft, who to trade for, and who to start week to week have become main topics of many articles in NFL media.
The NFL and fantasy football work extremely well together. With all the positive impacts one has on the other, it is a very impressive business. In terms of being a business and growing their business, the NFL and fantasy football are essentially perfect for each other. For the NFL’s opening weekend in the 2021 season, NBC and CBS saw an increase in viewership compared to the first weekend of the 2020 NFL season. CBS’s two Sunday afternoon games drew an average of 16.6 million viewers, up 21% from last year’s opening weekend. NBC’s total audience averaged 22.9 million viewers for its Thursday and Sunday night games, an 11% jump from last season’s week one. With the growth in viewership already showing in just the first week, the NFL and fantasy football is in good shape. The growth of the NFL and fantasy football is not showing any signs of slowing down any time soon.