Fantasy Sport Consumer Segmentation: An Investigation into the Differing Consumption Modes of Fantasy Football Participants

Article excerpt

Abstract

Sport fandom is one of the preeminent leisure activities in our society, and contemporary sport consumption has evolved to a point wherein it includes several activities such as event attendance, television viewership, and publication subscriptions, both online and in print. Among these means of sport fan consumption is fantasy sport participation. While the activity has grown immensely within the past few decades, relatively little is known about who participates and what impact participation has on the consumption of sport products and services. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the differing modes of sport consumption exhibited by fantasy sport participants. Employing an orthogonal research design, the study uncovered four distinct consumption modes, each with differing patterns of behavior. Discussed are the theoretical results with regard to player attachment and psychological commitment to team as well as practical implications for sport marketers looking to utilize fantasy sport participation as an enhanced marketing communication tool.

Introduction

Sport fandom is one of the preeminent leisure activities in our society today. However, the sport marketplace has grown to a point wherein sport fans have numerous opportunities and outlets in which to spend their limited amounts of time and money. As a result, contemporary sport consumption has evolved to include several activities including event attendance, television viewership, and publication subscriptions, both online and in print. Among these means of sport consumption is fantasy sport participation.

Defined as an ancillary sport service heavily associated with real-world sport statistics, fantasy sport participation is primarily an online activity that is completely customizable, interactive, and involves nearly every major professional sport, from the National Football League (NFL) to NASCAR. Recently, the pastime has grown into a highly popular activity for all types of sport fans. According to the Fantasy Sport Trade Association (FSTA, 2008), nearly 30 million people over the age of 12 play fantasy sports within the United States and Canada. In addition, the FSTA estimates $800 million is spent directly on fantasy sports products and services each year while an additional $3.5 billion is spent on media products and services related to the activity.

For sport marketing researchers, fantasy sport participation also has the potential to influence several wellresearched constructs within sport consumer behavior inquiry. That is, while the majority of previous research has focused on an individual's favorite or most-preferred team (Mahony & Howard, 1998; Mahony & Moorman, 1999; Mahony, Madrigal, & Howard, 2000; Trail & James, 2001), fantasy sport participation has the potential to add another layer to contemporary sport consumption due to its enhanced focus on individual players and statistics. For instance, a typical fantasy football owner manages 10 to 12 heterogeneous NFL players. Each week this owner competes against an additional 8 to 10 players. As a result of these combined competitive interests, this participant may have a curiosity in nearly every NFL game played each weekend. This phenomenon has the potential to create a psychological paradox for individuals with a vested interest in their favorite NFL team. That is, with a limited amount of time and money to consume NFL football, the widened scope of fantasy football participation has the potential to dilute one's attachment to their favorite team. Given this intriguing circumstance, the aim of this study was to investigate the differing modes of sport consumption exhibited by fantasy sport participants.

As an activity, however, fantasy sport relies heavily on sport media consumption as opposed to traditional forms of sport consumption (i.e., event attendance, merchandise acquisition, etc.). While the traditional forms still account for a considerable amount of a sport organization's income, the significance of sport media as a revenue stream should not be underestimated. …