What Does the Future Hold For Fantasy Sports?
Fantasy sports have taken off both in the United States and worldwide. A 2020 survey of Americans found that 10% of respondents planned to participate in a season-long fantasy football league, and this gaming genre shows no signs of slowing down. What makes fantasy sports unique is the betting component that allows players to profit when their teams are successful.
Several sports books allow users to bet on their favorite fantasy teams. For fans who’ve never placed a bet, many offer risk free bets to new customers. It’s a great way to test the water and your expertise before wagering your own money.
The popularity of fantasy sports looks set to continue for some time to come; in this article, we’ll look at what the future might hold for the industry.
According to the Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association, over 59 million people participate in fantasy sports in the US and Canada, and another 20 million in India, with the total number expected to grow to 150 million by 2022.
The industry raked in $20.36 billion in 2020, and industry analysts expect that number to increase to $22.31 billion in 2021. As fantasy sports make inroads into emerging markets from Africa to South America, the industry’s growth remains on an upward trajectory.
Young sports fans around the world are driving this industry growth, with 50% of players between the ages of 18 and 34 years old. Increased access to the internet globally, along with the availability of next-generation technology (5G) and affordable smartphones, will increase the demand for fantasy sports even more.
The advent of smartphones and smartphone apps has fueled growth in the fantasy sports industry over the past decade. Players can enjoy a rich gaming experience with user-friendly apps, creating or joining private leagues, tracking players’ performance, and checking player rankings in real-time.
What’s more, players can participate in mock drafts, read game predictions, and take advantage of exclusive features when they use these apps. Smartphone users downloaded 218 billion apps in 2020, and this figure is expected to increase to 258 billion by 2022. Downloads of fantasy sports apps are expected to increase as demand for mobile apps continues to grow.
If you’re familiar with Pokémon Go, then you’re familiar with augmented reality (AR) technology. The 2016 hit game-used AR to allow players to see real-world environments and to find Pokémon in different locations through their phone camera.
When you watch a football game, you’re also witnessing AR at work when a broadcaster draws lines on the field. AR is becoming a bigger part of our daily lives, and fantasy sports providers are taking notice.
Companies are also developing AR technology to further enhance the fantasy sports gaming experience. So how will that apply to your favorite fantasy sport that’s driven by statistics and data? AR platforms and apps will provide participants with an immersive experience while playing fantasy sports. Drafting players for your fantasy sports team is an uneventful process but, with AR, you’ll actually go out and recruit players for your team.
Similar to Pokémon Go, a player you’re interested in drafting is sent to your area. The person who arrives at this player’s location will be able to draft them by throwing them a virtual football. If nobody recruits the player in the allotted time, then they move to a new random location. The draft would reward the most active and engaged players, changing the more lackluster qualities of the current way in which fantasy sports are played.
Plus, there’s the added element of luck around whether a player will appear close to your home. You’ll feel closer to the action with a zoomed-in view of the field as you select your starting lineup. AR hasn’t yet been successfully applied to fantasy sports but as the technology evolves we’ll undoubtedly see creative examples using this technology in the future.
At the same time, artificial intelligence (AI) will help participants make more informed decisions about starting players and who they should trade. Things we once only experienced in science fiction movies about technology are closer to becoming a reality.
AI will allow gamers to build a fantasy team based on data instead of luck. Several programs already use AI to make predictions about fantasy sports, and these will become more common in the future.
NFTs and Blockchain
Video games built on the blockchain have become all the rage this year, and fantasy sports companies are looking to cash in on the trend. Nonfungible tokens (NFTs) are the drivers of blockchain-based games, and fantasy sports games would operate by selling NFTs that would go up in value depending on an athlete’s performance. NFTs are unique digital assets that can’t be duplicated, making them ideal for fantasy sports gaming.
Gaming mechanics based on NFTs give each athlete an intrinsic value and allow for a fairer distribution of superstar athletes. Plus, NFTs are tradable. A fantasy sports gamer could use their expertise to make money whether their team performs the best in a league or not, earning substantial amounts simply because they know who to sell, who to buy, and when to do it.
Fantasy sports sites can also use blockchain technology to foster transparency, allowing users to track data associated with their teams, winners, and prizes. Many of the biggest names in fantasy sports have adopted or are looking at adopting blockchain technology to enhance user experience. Several sites already allow users to pay with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
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The Sky is the Limit
Whether it’s the NFL or cricket, fantasy sports have changed how fans around the world interact with their favorite sports. Although they started out as a game among friends back in the 1960s, the genre has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry played by millions worldwide.
Advances in technology, including AR and AI, and emerging markets will continue to drive industry growth for years to come. Fantasy sports fans have a lot to look forward to as the industry continues to grow and evolve.