From The Editor's Desk

Can Daily Fantasy Games Erode Live Attendance?

The heavy investment of single day or weekly fantasy game companies like DraftKings and FanDuel should provide cause for concern when it comes to sports franchises. This isn’t about decrying the practice of fantasy sports, but to question whether it is in the best interest of leagues and teams to promote such games, especially when it comes to the live sports product.

Consider what the advent of fantasy sports does: It creates segmentations of fans who are focused on individual players over the teams itself.

While fantasy sports has been a staple over the past 30 years, whereas a form of wagering for cash and prizes comes into affect, the fantasy sports fandom is taken to another level. Now, there is a specific and direct interest in watching a player over a team, in order to gauge performance. This is no different than any other type of sports gambling. Once there is money on the line, there is now a focused interest in either recouping the investment or winning an increased amount.

Thus, the question: Are teams helping foster a generation of fan who would rather sit home with multiple games streaming at once in order to watch their fantasy roster, or attending the single live game product, where only one of their fantasy roster players may be participating.

At this moment, DraftKings and FanDuel are both awash with investment cash. Both companies are valued over $1 billion each, together spending a combined $31 million each on over 9,000 ads during the first week of the NFL 2015 season. They are essentially keeping the television industry afloat for now with their ad-buys. It’s spending unseen since the days of the 1990s Internet boom where every dot com threw as much advertising at the problem to build “awareness” as possible.

But in that awareness, it has to be asked: Who are these people becoming fans of?

The majority of hardcore sports gamblers aren’t fans of any team. Notoriously and historically, they haven’t attended games because they have so many parlays across the board, requiring them to watch various games at multiple times. That’s why there are 32 televisions at Caesar’s Palace with every sport played, yet no sound on any of them. Because all that matters to gamblers are the score and the lines.

There are a ton of teams who are sinking a lot of time helping push the DK and FD model to their own fans. FanDuel has a new partnership with the NBA, DraftKings locked in the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, the New England Patriots and Fox Sports.

This may be for not, but there may be trouble down the line for leagues and teams, as this type of fantasy model grows. Because players can come and go, but the brand of the team is what keeps fans invested each year, through viewership, sponsorship and ticket sales. Take that away, and it might as well be where teams have no place in the future era, only there to house the players whom each of the fantasy fans are focused on.

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