The NFL Wants a Piece of the $11 Billion Fantasy Football Market

Will this crowded field have room for a new player?

The NFL released its new NFL Now app on Wednesday to establish a presence in the digital market and tap into the fantasy league profits.

The Hollywood Reporter explains that, based on the NFL’s own research, 56 percent of fans are using a secondary device as they watch live games on TV. While Yahoo, ESPN and other app designers are already providing digital content for viewers, the NFL hopes to seize the market by delivering easy-access stats, personalized recommendations based on individual usage and exclusive NFL-branded content.

Just in time for the Sept. 4 kickoff of the new season, NFL Now will showcase all NFL-produced material in real time, with the exception of live games, whose rights are shared by CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN. While the basic version of the app is free, premium services like past games and content from NFL Films and the NFL Network can be accessed for $2 or $3 a month. This will complement the revenue created by app commercials, with sponsors such as Verizon, Gillette and McDonald’s.

The NFL is hoping to finally cash in on the $11 billion dollar fantasy football market. After years of unsuccessful attempts to control the rights to its stats, the NFL is using the app to try a new approach. With 32 million Americans involved in fantasy leagues in 2011 (according to Stats LLC) and many participants using apps to monitor their teams’ stats, NFL Now targets a wide and diverse range of consumers.

"To use a football analogy," John Fletcher, SNL Kagan senior analyst told The Hollywood Reporter, "we’re still in the first quarter of all this."