More than 7 Million Americans Participate in Online Fantasy Sports, According to Comscore Media Metrix

Comscore Media Metrix Launches New Tool for More Granular Analysis of Web Audiences

RESTON, Va., July 19, 2004 – Comscore Media Metrix today released the results of an analysis of online fantasy sports activity, which revealed that more than 7 million Americans visited the fantasy sports sections of Yahoo! Sports, Sportsline and ESPN. These users viewed an average of more than 200 pages of fantasy sports content per month. The analysis was conducted using Comscore’s newly launched MediaBuilder tool, which provides customizable page- and channel-level detail for Web site audiences and usage behavior.

“Fantasy sports have become an integral component of sports publishers’ strategy for good reason,” said Peter Daboll, president and CEO of Comscore Media Metrix. “Aside from the revenue generated from selling advanced functionality, fantasy content draws large numbers of loyal and highly engaged visitors.”

Fantasy Users are Highly Engaged Visitors
Comscore’s analysis of online fantasy sports usage found that an average of 4.7 million Americans per month visited fantasy content at the three major providers, Yahoo! Sports, Sportsline and ESPN, between October and May. On average, these users spent 93 minutes viewing 219 pages of fantasy sports content in a given month.

Table 1

Usage Profile: Visitors to Fantasy Sports Sections* of Yahoo! Sports, Sportsline & ESPN
Total U.S. Home, Work and University Internet Users
Analysis Period: October 2003 through May 2004
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
  Average Month(October-May) Peak Month
Unique Visitors (000) 4,720 (October) 7,447
Average Minutes Per Visitor 93 (February) 128
Average Pages Per Visitor 219 (May) 255
Usage Days Per Month 7 (May) 9

The extent to which fantasy sports can be an effective means of attracting loyal and heavy site users is particularly apparent when fantasy visitors’ usage behavior is compared to that of general sports category visitors. For example, the average visitor to the sports category viewed 107 pages per month between October and May – less than half of the average number of pages viewed by fantasy users during the same period. Fantasy users also spend more time viewing fantasy-related content than the average sports category visitor spends viewing sports content of any kind. Specifically, visitors spent an average of 93 minutes viewing fantasy content during the analysis period, compared to 71 minutes spent by the average Sports category visitor viewing all content.

Fantasy Football Draws Twice as Many Visitors as Any Other Sport
Not surprisingly, the analysis, which spanned eight months (October through May), found that visitation to fantasy sports content is highly seasonal. With all four major professional sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL) in various stages of their seasons, October was the peak month in terms of audience size. More than 7.4 million Americans, or about 5 percent of all U .S. Internet users, visited the fantasy sports sections of Yahoo! Sports, Sportsline and ESPN in October.

Table 2

Usage Profile: Visitors to Fantasy Sports Sections* of Yahoo! Sports, Sportsline & ESPN
Total U.S. Home, Work and University Internet Users
Analysis Period: October 2003 through May 2004
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
Month Regular Season League Schedules Fantasy Sports Visitors
MLB NFL NBA NHL
October 2003   ü ü ü 7,447
November 2003   ü ü ü 7,413
December 2003   ü ü ü 7,038
January 2004     ü ü 2,997
February 2004     ü ü 2,355
March 2004 ü   ü ü 3,797
April 2004 ü   ü ü 3,604
May 2004 ü       3,108

While February posted the lowest monthly fantasy audience level, 2.4 million visitors, users during this month showed the highest level of usage engagement, as measured by time spent and pages viewed. The average visitor in February spent 128 minutes at the fantasy sports sections of Yahoo! Sports, Sportsline and ESPN, representing the greatest amount of time during the shortest month of the year. Further, visitors in February viewed 241 pages of fantasy sports content during the month, the second highest level during the analysis period (May was the highest, with 255 page views per visitor).

Football fans are clearly the most significant contributors to fantasy sports traffic. In October, 81 percent of all fantasy visitors, or more than 6.0 million people, viewed football content – significantly more than the 3.1 million people who visited fantasy baseball content in April.

Yahoo! Sports Draws Three Times as Many Fantasy Visitors as Nearest Competitor
Comscore’s research found that, on average, fantasy sports content at Yahoo! Sports draws three times the monthly audience of its nearest competitor. An average of more than 3.1 million users per month visited Yahoo! Sports fantasy content during the analysis period, compared to 950,000 visitors to ESPN and 930,000 visitors to Sportsline.

While very closely matched in terms of average monthly audiences, ESPN and Sportsline appear to be disproportionately popular with followers of different sports leagues. During the NFL season, Sportsline drew more fantasy visitors than ESPN (by an average margin of more than 300,000 visitors per month). However, in January, after the end of the NFL regular season, ESPN overtook Sportsline and led by an average margin of more than 200,000 visitors for the next five months. ESPN’s lead was especially pronounced in March, as users began configuring fantasy leagues for the start of the baseball season.

Table 3

Unique Visitors (000) to Fantasy Sports Content*
Total U.S. Home, Work and University Internet Users
Analysis Period: October 2003 through May 2004
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
  Yahoo! Sports ESPN Sportsline
October 2003 4,939 1,510 1,664
November 2003 4,889 1,220 1,781
December 2003 4,441 1,352 1,638
January 2004 1,910 621 461
February 2004 1,633 548 330
March 2004 2,500 1,111 561
April 2004 2,586 661 513
May 2004 2,198 590 484
Average 3,137 952 929

Males Age 25-34 Most Likely to Visit Fantasy Sports Content…Surprised?
A demographic analysis confirmed what many would have expected: fantasy sports content is particularly attractive to younger males. Approximately 75 percent of all visitors to fantasy content are male, while more than a third of all fantasy visitors are between the ages of 25 and 34. Taken together, 25-34 year old males are 170 percent more likely to visit fantasy content than the average Internet user. Fantasy visitors are also much more likely to have household incomes of $100,000 or more, live in single-person households and have a higher level of education.

“While it comes as little surprise to us that fantasy sports content is particularly attractive with younger males, these numbers are excellent news for publishers of this content,” continued Mr. Daboll. “There’s no doubt that fantasy content is disproportionately popular with many of the most highly sought-after demographic segments, including younger, more educated and more affluent consumers.”

Table 4

Highest Indexing Demographic Segments
Total U.S. Home, Work and University Internet Users
Analysis Period: May 2004
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
  Composition Index Unique Visitors (000)
Gender: Males  145  2,287
Age: 25-34  192  1,117
Household Income: $100,000 or more  145  859
U.S. Region: New England  248  493
Children in Household: No  107  1,568
Household Size: 1  113  327
Education: Graduate Degree  137  376

Comscore also found that the average fantasy sports user is 26 percent more likely to have a broadband connection than is the average at-home Internet user. More than 53 percent of at-home visitors to fantasy content access the Web through a broadband connection, compared to approximately 40 percent of total U.S. at-home users. Since most participants visit fantasy content on a frequent basis, the “always on” connection provided by broadband access is likely a key factor in the disproportionate usage by this segment.

Comscore Launches MediaBuilder for More Granular Audience Measurement
This analysis was produced using MediaBuilder, a new tool recently introduced by Comscore Media Metrix. This breakthrough service allows clients to analyze user-defined sections of Web sites, including page- and channel-level detail. Using this tool, Comscore was easily able to aggregate and compare the fantasy sports sections of Yahoo! Sports, Sportsline and ESPN.

MediaBuilder allows clients to:

  • Understand audience dynamics at user-defined sections of any major Web site, including page-level detail
  • Identify which pages and site sections drove traffic increases or decreases at a particular site
  • Deliver meaningful measurements of site sections and subsections to potential advertising clients
  • Make smarter content planning decisions by understanding what types of content resonate most with audiences
  • Exclude non-competitive content from competitors’ sites when making property- or channel-level comparisons.

For more information about Comscore MediaBuilder, please send an e-mail to mmxinfo@comscore.com or call 866-276-6972.

*Analysis limited to fantasy sports activity related to the following major professional leagues: MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL. For the purposes of this analysis, fantasy sports functionality is defined as league play, such as ESPN’s “League Manager” and Sportsline’s “League Commissioner.” 

About Comscore Media Metrix
Comscore Media Metrix, a division of Comscore Networks, provides industry-leading Internet audience measurement services that report – with unmatched accuracy - details of online media usage, visitor demographics and online buying power for the home, work and university audiences across local U.S. markets and across the globe. Comscore Media Metrix continues the tradition of quality and innovation established by its Media Metrix syndicated Internet ratings - long recognized as the currency in online media measurement among financial analysts, advertising agencies, publishers and marketers - while drawing upon Comscore's advanced technologies to address important new industry requirements. All Comscore Media Metrix syndicated ratings are based on industry-sanctioned sampling methodologies.

About Comscore Networks
Comscore Networks provides unparalleled insight into consumer behavior and attitudes. This capability is based on a massive, global cross-section of more than 2 million consumers who have given Comscore explicit permission to confidentially capture their browsing and transaction behavior, including online and offline purchasing. Comscore panelists also participate in survey research that captures and integrates their attitudes and intentions. Through its patent-pending technology, Comscore measures what matters across a broad spectrum of behavior and attitudes. Comscore consultants apply this deep knowledge of customers and competitors to help clients design powerful marketing strategies and tactics that deliver superior ROI. Comscore services are used by global leaders such as Microsoft, Verizon, Best Buy, The Newspaper Association of America, Knight Ridder Digital, Nestlé, Wells Fargo & Company, GlaxoSmithKline, and Orbitz. For more information, please visit www.comscore.com.

Contact:
Andrew Lipsman
Comscore, Inc.
+1 312 775 6510
press@comscore.com



 

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