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I've seen some guesswork on the web around the economic impact fantasy sports has had on tv viewership and general product sales. However, I can't find any hard research on what the effect on ticket sales has been in the past 15 years or so since fantasy sports has boomed into the tens of millions of participants.

Given fantasy football and fantasy baseball are the most popular, I'd be most interested to see if those sports have had a measurable increase in attendance that can be reasonably tied to the rise in fantasy sports popularity.

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    I have a feeling it would be very hard to divorce this factor from the availability of HD broadcasts of the games. Although my impression is that attendance has grown/stayed level even with the rise of these factors, but I don't have numbers in front of me to prove it. – wax eagle May 17 '12 at 16:07
  • Yeah, it's tough data to come across. The FSTA does some reports on this, but I find there data to be pretty suspect (they claim fantasy sports is a $2-4 billion business for instance). – Will Cole May 18 '12 at 14:00
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This is definitely different for every sport, so I think it is hard to make a general statement. So, I will attempt to answer the question from the point-of-view of fantasy football and the NFL.

There is evidence to show that it actually hurts ticket sales. In 2012, the NFL will require that teams show fantasy statistics at all stadiums. The belief is that fans are staying home to keep track of their fantasy football teams instead of buying tickets and attending games. Since ticket sales have been on the decline* for the past 5 years or so and subscriptions to services like NFL Red Zone and NFL Ticket are on the increase, it would stand to reason that the increase in popularity does not necessarily mean an increase in ticket sales. While this may be good for the NFL, it is not good for the individual clubs.

It is worth noting that this impacts the NFL harder than other sports due to the fact that at least 50% of their games are played at 1:00PM ET on Sundays. So, if you are attending a game, you are likely missing out on the majority of other games going on that week. The impact may not be nearly as severe with fantasy baseball or fantasy basketball.

*: warning- article is dated 2010, but the 2011 data was skewed due to the lockout and the 2012 data is not yet available

  • This makes a lot of sense. While I generally agree with Mark Cuban's post (blogmaverick.com/2011/12/24/…) it makes sense that it could drive people away from attending games if not available. – Will Cole May 24 '12 at 21:19
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    My worry is that this ignores other factors that may drive down ticket sales, such as higher ticket prices, a worse economy that makes it harder for the average family to purchase tickets, or the larger availability of games through cable and satellite (which may cost the same for an entire season as the tickets for a single game). Separating out the variables for the decline in ticket sales would be incredibly difficult. Fantasy football may have some impact, but the combination of factors probably has a much stronger relationship to the decline of ticket sales. – SocioMatt Nov 30 '12 at 13:54
  • @SocioMatt Yeah, that's true. I didn't mean to say that fantasy football was responsible for ALL of the decline in ticket sales, but just that there is evidence to suggest that it actually hurts ticket sales more than it helps them. – Marcus Swope Dec 3 '12 at 23:49
  • @MarcusSwope I get that you weren't suggesting it accounted for all of the decline. It makes sense that it might be a contributing factor, I just don't know that it is clear that there is any impact by fantasy football. But I think you make some great points in the answer. – SocioMatt Dec 4 '12 at 16:08

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