What Time Is The Monday Night Football On Tonight Fantasy Football – A Lesson In Monetizing Anything

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Fantasy Football – A Lesson In Monetizing Anything

Attention, entrepreneurial spirits – the following would have seemed as contrived 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 monetize anything!

Congratulations to the NFL. They’ve found a way to maintain a huge fan base despite the many off-field issues that seem to pop up every week. The 2012 referee strike and incompetent replacements? Forget it – it didn’t even register on an NFL fan’s “List of Things to Worry About.” How could that be? This is a league where popular players have recently been accused or found guilty of domestic violence, rape, child abuse and murder. Nice guys, huh? In short, there is NOTHING to stop us from tuning in every Thursday, Sunday and Monday (in my lifetime, I’m sure there will be a game every night of the week). TV ratings suggest that this monster really is too big to fail.

So why do we do it? It’s not because we care who wins or loses the actual game. Some of us do, but now we are in the minority. No, victories and defeats are not the other reason either. Sports gambling, while illegal in most states, WAS what kept the NFL at the top of the list for sports fans. People gamble nearly $10 billion on the Super Bowl alone. Imagine what a full season brings. The joke used to be something like “Dad’s favorite team is the Dolphins and he wants them 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.

It turns out that what will help the NFL remain king of the hill indefinitely is a gambling photo negative. It’s Fantasy Football, and it’s almost to the point where we can remove the word “Fantasy” from the name. It’s very real, and it’s here to stay. Gambling is illegal because it is considered a “game of chance.” Betting on Fantasy Football is legal 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 destroy people’s lives when they lose. Fantasy football is innocent and fun, even though just as much money is spent participating, and yes, half of it is wasted. In gambling, there is only money. With Fantasy Football there is money, but also funny team names, trophies and bragging rights. Market norms versus social norms, once again. Unless you live in one of the few states where gambling is legal, you need connections to people with connections to participate. All you need to participate in Fantasy Football is an internet connection and an investment of just $1.

Fantasy Football’s roots can be traced back to the 1960s, but it was a different world. Only in the last 10 years, thanks entirely to the internet, has it taken off and become a craze… and a SERIOUS business. About 40 million Americans are playing some form of Fantasy Football this year and spending about $2 billion doing so, but that’s just the beginning. When you consider the entire industry, the empire that is Fantasy Football is estimated to be worth more than $50 billion! And it will continue to grow. Everyone does it. I play, my friends play. Heck, even NFL players play! Just this week, an NFL player tweeted, “I’ll probably lose a fantasy football game this week because (Adrian Peterson) can’t play Sunday for disciplining his kid…” Indeed.

While you won’t hear the announcers talk about points, they often refer to fantasy stats. Crawling at the bottom of the TV screen is now devoted to a new national pastime. As big as the NFL has become, it recognizes that it NEEDS an element of Fantasy Football to keep its brand healthy, so they go out of their way to promote it. There are magazines, books, radio shows, and TV shows devoted to it, and there’s even a TV series based on a group of friends bonded by their Fantasy Football league. Only in America!

Online fantasy football sites make money by capitalizing on the popularity of this “game of skill.” One of the most popular sites boasts of paying out more than $10 million per week. Considering they smartly charge 10% on every dollar to facilitate thousands of contests among strangers, it’s easy to calculate how a company like this can quickly become worth millions almost overnight. And it’s not just NFL football. Most of these sites provide a forum 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 form. If you don’t have the product itself, 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” (whoever questions that anyway) and set the price.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. It’s almost game time and I have to root for my kicker’s offense to move the ball down the field to the 30 and then get stopped. Strange thing, this Fantasy Football.

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