At the end of October, the NFL hit the midseason mark. As a whole, there is plenty of good news: TV ratings are up 2% year over year, teams are scoring more points than ever before, and games are very competitive. This led us to question how fans are interacting with the brand in the digital space.
How do NFL fans extend games beyond the TV?
To address this question, we looked at some of the most popular NFL related properties including fantasy sports and betting applications. According to Verto Watch data, the top applications are: NFL, DraftKings, FanDuel, CBS Sports Fantasy, and ESPN Fantasy Football based on unique users among U.S. adults ages 18 and over.
By comparing these applications to last year’s user and time spent numbers over the first eight weeks of the season, it gives us a better perspective on where these brands stand today. As you can see in the chart below, the NFL app has ceded some ground in both users and time spent compared to last year. ESPN Fantasy Football has seen strong growth this year, possibly attracting those that have shifted away from the NFL. In the daily fantasy sports side, FanDuel has grown astronomically. It seems like they have benefited greatly from the Supreme Court’s ruling to strike down the ban on sports betting.
When we look at the daily charts, we see just how much the year over year growth revolves around NFL game days and the preceding day. On Sundays alone, FanDuel users grew almost 140% with time spent in the application increasing close to 275% year over year, compared to the NFL at -2.1% and 14.4% respectively.
This goes to show that the NFL is alive and healthy, although it is evolving. It seems that fans are less loyal their local team but have become fans of the game itself, seeing as time spent on the ESPN Fantasy Football app alone has increased 21.3% year over year. Whether they are rooting for players on their many fantasy teams or the Jets to not let them down (again), people are engaged.