One Trend We Expect To Grow in 2021

Author: Heather Valle, Account Lead

In an interview with Seattle Times in 2018, Seattle Seahawks star Richard Sherman shared his disappointment with fantasy fans – “It’s really devastating. I think a lot of fans out there have looked at players less like people because of fantasy football. You go and say ‘oh, man this guy got hurt.’ But you aren’t thinking ‘hey man, this guy got hurt, he’s really physically hurt.”

It’s true when players get hurt or don’t play well, they are the subject of fans scrutiny. Yet, they’re the heart and soul behind sports franchises and the true reason fans have the opportunity to reap cash rewards with the click of a button.

Take a more recent example, Dez Bryant was pulled right before a game because he tested positive for COVID-19. He Tweeted his results instantly, and while many fans did wish him a speedy recovery, one Tweet that received 5.2K likes said, “I would believe this but you can’t catch anything.” Cold insult for a player who tested positive for a deadly virus.

While players can’t control every snarky Tweet that comes their way, a new trend is emerging where the player is grabbing a more active and dynamic role in the industry. Players are becoming more active in the fantasy sports space and in 2021 and beyond we foresee more players taking ownership stakes, investing in or signing strategic partnerships with fantasy platforms. This drastically shifts the long-standing one-way relationship of fantasy players benefiting from the actual players on the field to where the players are using their clout and brand to begin reaping rewards from this multi-billion dollar industry.

Since that article in 2018, Sherman has become a founding partner of Daily Number, a daily fantasy sports app.

In 2020, we saw a similar trend in the partnership between Monkey Knife Fight (MKF), the third-largest daily fantasy sports gaming platform in North America, and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), giving players equity stake in MKF.

“We’re thrilled to enter a partnership in an industry that exists and is based on what we do on the field,” said Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.

It’s not only beneficial for the players, it’s beneficial for the fantasy sports platforms who are having trouble standing out in the crowded space. According to our fall Quarterly Pulse, 60% of respondents reported not having loyalty to any specific platform, and when asked what would sway their loyalty, 14% said if celebrities communicated great things about it and 20% said if the company clearly looked and communicated how it is different from others.

A platform that takes leadership from sports influencers can infuse unique content and perspective from these big names and certainly brings differentiated value for users who are uncertain which platform to call home.

It makes the difference between the average sports fan that thinks “I don’t know where to even begin with sports betting” versus “Gronkowski was Tweeting about that one website… yeah I think I will check them out.”

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