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Fantasy Sports Growing from Hobby to Multi-Million Dollar Industry

Audio

Aired 8/12/09

Are you ready for some fantasy football? More than 30 million North Americans regularly play fantasy sports. But if you're one of the rest of us, you might ask, "what the heck is fantasy sports?" We speak to the president of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, and the "godfather of fantasy sports market research" about why people play fantasy sports, and how the industry has grown over the last decade.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. Even people who are not very interested in professional sports, can usually keep up their end of a casual conversation. We've all heard the names of popular athletes, we know our home teams, so we have at least some context to handle new information. But all that comfortable context evaporates for the sports dilettante when confronted with the brave new world of fantasy sports. People who love professional sports deeply, and want to be involved in the inner workings of the game, create their own fantasy leagues, assemble their own teams and in a series of arcane computations figure out those teams' relative merits. There are winners, there are losers.

There is endless joy for the fantasy players and much confusion for the people who love them. It's estimated that more than 30 million people in North America regularly play fantasy sports, and the fantasy leagues are expanding to include not just football, baseball and basketball, but NASCAR, American Idol, and fantasy bass fishing? Today we'll be learning the basics of fantasy sports and try to figure out why these games are so popular. Joining me are my guests. Paul Charchian, he is president of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association and owner of a company called League Safe. Paul, welcome to These Days.

PAUL CHARCHIAN (President, Fantasy Sports Trade Association): Hi, Maureen. Nice to talk to you.

CAVANAUGH: Nice to – Nice for you to join us. I appreciate it. And Dr. Kim Beason is Associate Professor and Coordinator of Park and Recreation Management at the University of Mississippity – Mississippi, that is. Dr. Beason joins us today because he is considered by many to be the godfather of fantasy sports market research. Dr. Beason, welcome.

DR. KIM BEASON (Coordinator of Park and Recreation Management, University of Mississippi): Thank you. That's a good intro.

CAVANAUGH: Now we invite our listeners to join the conversation. Do you manage a fantasy sports team? How much time do you devote to it? Is someone you know involved in fantasy sports? Give us a call with your questions and your comments. The number is 1-888-895-5727, that's 1-888-895-KPBS. Dr. Beason, I wonder if you could briefly explain how fantasy sports work.

DR. BEASON: It's pretty simple. There's – Of course, there's a lot of different competition formats but the – probably the most popular that most folks will refer to is a group of folks get together and, let's use football for example, and they can sit around a table and they go around in a circle and then reverse the circle after the last person picks and they pick football players to fill a roster and then once their roster's filled, they use the week to week statistics of their players, the actual real statistics that they generate during NFL games, translate that into a point system. Those points go to their team then their team's compared to the other teams in their league. And that's really the simplest way to explain it.

CAVANAUGH: Now this whole process has gotten a whole lot easier over the years with the internet, hasn't it?

DR. BEASON: I – I think that that's the reason why we're probably talking to you right now.

CAVANAUGH: Now who are fantasy sports players? Does the activity attract one particular demographic?

DR. BEASON: It – We attribute it to, and we have a generality that we will throw out, that it's, you know, a person between 36 and 41, college educated, they have a disposable income and median income's around $70,000 to $80,000, and, you know, they're considered in the workforce as white collar workers or professionals. But that's just a generality. It really does span from one end of the spectrums to the other, how ever you want to classify it with folks that'll play.

CAVANAUGH: And, Paul, I want to get you – I want to get you both in on this particular question. Let me start with you, Paul. Why do people play fantasy sports? What are the reasons?

CHARCHIAN: You know, we've done a lot of research. Dr. Kim has as well. And one of the big misconceptions is that people are playing for the money and there are a lot of leagues that do have a modest amount of money in them but, really, we play fantasy sports for the competition, the camaraderie with our friends, a reason to stay in touch with ten or twelve of our friends and co-workers, and – and also for that sense that in a game that we can't control in any meaningful way, we have a little bit of control over our fantasy rosters and who we draft and, you know, if you don't like Terrell Owens and you don't like his antics and the way he runs his life and his narcissism, well then don't draft him. Never have him on your team. And it gives us the feeling of being a general manager for a real team and that counts for a lot.

CAVANAUGH: And, Dr. Beason, what would you say were the reasons people play fantasy sports?

DR. BEASON: Well, I just – I would add to what Paul mentioned. It's real simple: It's fun.

CAVANAUGH: Uh-huh.

DR. BEASON: And it initiates what some folks may find surprising is play behavior in an adult, and it actually allows, you know, an adult to become immersed in an activity. If you want to call it fantasy, that's fine, but the real truth is that there is quite a bit of effort, time, place in managing the team for a lot of folks, and there's ego involvement with it.

CHARCHIAN: Umm-hmm.

DR. BEASON: There's bragging rights. So, you know, if you place those in with those factors that Paul's already mentioned, you can consider it a leisure pastime that's starting to make its – I mean, it's starting to become ingrained in society.

CAVANAUGH: And I want to remind our listeners that we are opening up the phones. I know that there are fantasy sports players out there. Tell us why you play and how you do it. 1-888-895-5727, is our number, that's 1-888-895-KPBS. Dr. Beason, I've heard that football is the most popular fantasy sport, and why is that?

DR. BEASON: I believe it's a couple of reasons. One, it's – the season, I think, probably is more conducive to fantasy sport. You're talking about a 16, 17 game season. Maybe going a little bit more with the playoffs, where as in baseball, you know, you're looking at over 150 games that folks have to try to manage. So it's not as time consuming and that's, you know, the one reason why if we find folks that do stop playing, it just does involve a lot of time. And it's just easy to track the scores of the players. The NFL and major networks have accommodated the fantasy sport players now with every bit of information that they could possibly want up to the moment, the media sources with phones and radio even, it makes it real easy to stay up with it. And, you know, on Monday morning then you can play armchair quarterback on your fantasy team with everybody around the workplace at the water cooler or at the break station and discuss how yours did against how theirs did.

CHARCHIAN: Maureen, in a nutshell, the NFL is easier.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, that's what it sounds like. And the NFL, actually the league is helping out.

CHARCHIAN: Yeah, you know, originally, when I got in this business in 1993, the NFL wouldn't even take a call on fantasy football. They wanted nothing to do with it. And eventually I think they came to realize that fantasy sports is not fantasy gambling, for one thing, and that it's incredibly popular. And it kind of got in a position that the NFL had to finally get on board with this and now they promote it openly. They've run entire ad campaigns around drafting NFL players. And the NFL Players Association as well have realized that this is very good for them as people have learned who all of these players are and have come to appreciate players outside of their own market. In the old days, if you were a Charger fan, you only paid attention to the Chargers but fantasy sports has opened up the interest level in all of the teams for people that are playing because you've got players on your fantasy roster that are scattered across all of the teams across the NFL.

CAVANAUGH: And I'm wondering, how much is the idea that maybe home teams are not as personal as they used to be played into the growth of fantasy sports. You know, it used to be like hometown heroes and now people get traded and they don't seem to have much allegiance to a particular team. Does that also factor in, Dr. Beason, to the idea of how people want to make their own teams and gather up their own players?

DR. BEASON: That may have a good part of it but I'll just refer to what the consumers actually tell us.

CAVANAUGH: Sure.

DR. BEASON: There's a good percentage that the reason why they've lost their connection with place or with their team is that the players are moving…

CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm.

DR. BEASON: …so rapidly. Any given year, you know – This year there was speculation that, you know, LT wouldn't be in San Diego.

CAVANAUGH: Ah, yeah.

DR. BEASON: And that sends, I think, a shock wave through the traditional NFL fan and it's resulted in really fantasy sport becoming a great avenue to release into a new spectrum what team actually means to these folks. So I don't see folks – you know, they like their favorite teams. They always will. But now they have a way to reconnect the players in some way back to the NFL.

CAVANAUGH: Exactly. We are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. We're talking about fantasy sports. And Gabriel is on the line from Oak Park. Good morning, Gabriel. Welcome to These Days.

GABRIEL (Caller, Oak Park): Hello.

CAVANAUGH: Yes, hi.

GABRIEL: How you doing? Yeah, I just – I've played fantasy football for about three years now and I really enjoy it. I got a bit obsessed though at times. My wife loves watching football and she's been a bit frustrated that I'll start rooting for players rather than teams. But I really love it and this year I have a new baby coming, I'm probably not going to play as much but I got to know the players so well that I never used to know, a lot of the second string and third string players. And it just seems like a really good way to really get into a sport and really understand it a lot better, so I've had a lot of fun with it.

CAVANAUGH: Gabriel, when you say -- You know, I want you to come clean with us. When you say you became obsessed with it, how much time did you spend playing fantasy football?

GABRIEL: I'd say that during the week when I would really get into it, I maybe would spend about maybe an hour or two a day…

CAVANAUGH: Uh-huh.

GABRIEL: …online reading different reports about injury reports or how players are doing, looking into different players I could pick up off the waiver wires. And at times I could see, you know, my family was – she – my wife would be a little upset but then she also knew that it was a way for me to kind of blow off steam and just analyze things and, you know, have fun.

CAVANAUGH: Okay, well, thank you for calling in and we really appreciate it.

CHARCHIAN: Maureen, think about it. An hour or two a day.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

CHARCHIAN: Imagine, you know, if you were – if you were an advertiser or, you know, you're in marketing, imagine what that would mean if you could tap into somebody who's spending an hour or two a day concentrating on a subject and doing research and trying to get a competitive advantage. You know, it's – it's enormously powerful to know how – how much time, effort, energy people willingly put into fantasy sports. That's an extraordinary amount of time and he's not even factoring what his Sundays look like when he's watching games and he's tracking all of his scores from, you know, from I guess, you know, Pacific time, something like ten in the morning until, you know, maybe even eight at night as he's tracking scores and following, you know, the outcomes of all of his fantasy teams.

CAVANAUGH: And, Dr. Beason, Gabriel mentioned his wife and so kind of she puts up with it but I was surprised to learn that there seems to be a growing number of women getting involved in fantasy sports even fantasy football.

DR. BEASON: Sure. I think the women have been involved just, you know, about the same percentagewise but they're just now starting to come out on their own because in the past they've played as part of a joint team or, you know, the boyfriend, significant other, maybe, you know, egging them to that point to play. I like to use my own wife as an example. When I first met her not many years ago, she didn't understand fantasy sports and I talked her into doing NASCAR and I promise you that over a period of the next ten weeks, she learned more about NASCAR than she would've the rest of her life.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, yeah.

DR. BEASON: And a lot of, I think, that the women see that once they start playing, they do get that immersion, that they do learn about the sport, and they also find out very quickly that there's not a bias, a gender bias, towards this competition level and that they can whoop on the men just as easy as a man can beat them, you know, beat another team so they really, you know, they're set up pretty well to just continue to grow in the market.

CHARCHIAN: And, Maureen, we're also finding that as fantasy sports have grown, they've also grown outside of sports. So we now have fantasy celebrity leagues that track which celebrities end up on the cover of magazines like People and In Touch. And we've got fantasy Box Office and fantasy American Idol and things that are non – that are reaching non-traditional fantasy sports audience like women players and so we're finding that the core concept of fantasy play is really emerging and morphing out of just sports but into other pastimes and interest sets as well and many of those really key for women.

CAVANAUGH: I want to talk more about these offshoots of fantasy sports in a little while. Let's take another call. Steve is calling from Bankers Hill. Good morning, Steve, and welcome to These Days.

STEVE (Caller, Bankers Hill): Hey, how are you?

CAVANAUGH: Great.

STEVE: I just – I've been playing fantasy sports for probably closet to a decade now and just had a couple observations, I guess, I wanted to just throw out to people who don't play. I think your guests have touched on one of them, that it really makes every game interesting to you. You don't just root for your home team anymore. I know my friends and I will go to the bar on Sunday and there'll be six or seven screens with different games and you've got a rooting interest in every single one of them. They all become interesting to you because you've got a player or players going in all of them. And kind of the flip side of that, one of the funny things about it, is sort of a convoluted rooting interests that you come up with but if you've got the quarterback for one team on your fantasy team and the defense for the other team, you have to start rooting for lots of points but no touchdowns. It just makes for kind of strange bedfellows when you've got opposing players on your teams there.

CAVANAUGH: So…

STEVE: And then just the last one I was going to throw out, I had a ten-person league last year. We had nine guys and one girl in it – and the girl wound up winning it all and…

CHARCHIAN: Nice.

STEVE: …taking us all down.

DR. BEASON: All right.

STEVE: It's definitely a equal opportunity game as well.

CAVANAUGH: Sweet. Thank you, Steve, very much. Now, Paul, I wanted to ask you, what is the Fantasy Sports Trade Association?

CHARCHIAN: It's a research and advocacy group for the industry. We're approximately 100 member companies that range all the way from ESPN and Yahoo and NBC and CBS all the way down to mom and pop shops that are people working out of their basement. And the – we fundamentally work on research through Dr. Kim, our other guest, and we also work on some of the legal issues and actually there have been significant legal issues as both the NFL and the Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball Players Association and they've tried to basically get a monopoly on fantasy sports by suggesting that they control all of the stats that are produced by the players. And so we've had to go through a number of legal challenges, to this point, that have all entirely gone in favor of fantasy sports operators. So to this point, there's been a surprising amount of legal hurdles we've had to work with with our member companies.

CAVANAUGH: That is – That's very interesting. Now why are they doing that? What is it that they want to control?

CHARCHIAN: They want to be – They want to make it so that if you want to – if you want to play fantasy football, you have to go to, say, NFL.com or MLB.com if you want to play fantasy baseball. And you can play effectively nowhere else because they believe that they should be able to control the team names, the player names and, most importantly, the statistics that are derived on the field. We've been able to argue in the fantasy industry that these statistics have been available in the public domain for years and years and years in the form of box scores in newspapers, Maureen, and, furthermore, millions of people just saw LaDainian Tomlinson score a touchdown. You mean I can't – you know, I can't put that into my program and have that work? So we've been able to keep the fantasy sports operators working and been able to avoid the monopolies that the leagues and the players associations have been trying to put forth.

CAVANAUGH: And I asked Dr. Beason this, I want to get your take on this, Paul. How has the fantasy sports industry changed over the last 20 years with the introduction of the intranet – internet, that is. I think what I've heard is it's taken it to a whole different level.

CHARCHIAN: Ah, it's complete – it's night and day. I started in 1993 and we had a magazine that came out once a week for fantasy sports and that was considered cutting news – cutting edge news reporting, that we had something that was in the same week. And what we found is once the internet came, fantasy sports became sort of like the first social networking on the internet because fantasy leagues are comprised of ten to twelve teams usually, so anything that one person does, they're dragging eleven friends with them. And fantasy sports took off through the internet and it became something where it had always been sort of hard to manage your teams and score your teams and go through all the administration. Well, now, with the internet you can do all of that online and everybody has access to all the stats and can change their players and offer trades and it's simplified things a lot. You can find leagues. If you don't know eleven people that want to play with you, you can go online and find a league in an instant and start playing. So we went from what we estimate to be three to four million people pre-internet to approximately 30 million playing in the U.S. and Canada now and, really, the internet is the main reason for that.

CAVANAUGH: We have to take a short break. When we return, we will continue talking about fantasy sports with my guests Paul Charchian and Dr. Kim Beason, and taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. These Days will return in just a few moments.

# # #

CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. We're talking about fantasy sports. The fantasy football season is just about to begin and with me to speak about all things fantasy sports are Paul Charchian. He is president of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association and owner of a company called League Safe. Dr. Kim Beason has done a lot of research on fantasy sports. In fact, as associate professor and Coordinator of Park and Recreation Management at the University of Mississippi, Dr. Beason is also known as the godfather of fantasy sports market research. And we're taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Let's start out with a phone call. John is calling from Poway. Good morning, John. Welcome to These Days.

JOHN (Caller, Poway): Thank you for taking my call.

CAVANAUGH: You're welcome.

JOHN: Yes, I play fantasy baseball every year and I'm actually the commissioner of our league and it's great. We're able to customize the stats that we want to keep track of and getting twelve people to be able to come together, it's kind of tough getting everybody to agree on what stats we should use and whatnot and so being the commissioner a lot of times I've had to – basically, I set up the league and, you know, say these are the stats and we go forward with that. And it seems to be working well. I've been doing it for about five years now, being the commissioner.

CAVANAUGH: Now, John, do you – does this take up a lot of your time because the baseball season is so long?

JOHN: You know what, it's not that bad. I – Most of us that play, we watch sports anyway and so we watch Sports Center every night or Baseball Tonight. And so we're already watching TV and my computer is set up so I can watch the TV and the computer at the same time so whenever I see a highlight or something like that, I can instantly check the updates on the fantasy sports page on the internet. And so…

CAVANAUGH: Oh, I…

JOHN: …it – it works out really well.

CAVANAUGH: I'm getting a mental picture of what's going on with you, John, and yes, indeed, you are deeply into this. Thank you so much for sharing that. I'm wondering, Dr. Beason, how many fantasy sports teams have you managed in the last year?

DR. BEASON: Oh, let's see, I'll be the first to admit I actually tried fantasy fishing this year.

CAVANAUGH: Oh.

DR. BEASON: I learned a lot about fan – fishing spots and some of the guys. I didn't do so hot. But this year I'll probably – I think I've already signed up for a couple of online football teams and we have our Dynasty League here in Oxford that I'll be a part of when we sit around and draft. I also play some NASCAR leagues. But I've played just about every fantasy sport contest at least once, just so that I say I can be a part of that, you know, knowledge base of how it goes. But, by far, football's probably my – my favorite.

CAVANAUGH: You know, Dr. Beason, I'm going to have to ask you more about that fantasy fishing thing in a minute but when did you decide to actually begin to study fantasy sports and what kind of data were you hoping to gather?

DR. BEASON: About seven, eight years ago, after playing for about ten years, it – my big interest area being in leisure behavior and in consumer research, I looked at fantasy sports because it would've been a natural match between something I love to do and then on the world of research. And started exploring all the research that was available and trying to find out what avenues of research to pursue and I was quick to find out there was nothing. People just hadn't explored this. It hadn't become mainstream enough for the research groups to start looking into. And so with that, I contacted the Fantasy Sport Trade Association and we've been in a partnership since then. They help me out with the subject base and I do as much as I can for them with the consumer behavior and marketing information that I can give them. And that's basically it. It's just continued and I hope to continue it in the future.

CAVANAUGH: Right. And, Paul, I wonder how your organization has used and benefited from the kind of research Dr. Beason does.

CHARCHIAN: Well, tremendously. We always felt like we fundamentally understood who was playing because it was made up of a lot of guys like us.

CAVANAUGH: Right.

CHARCHIAN: But, you know, we ended up learning a lot of things that you always thought were the case but you didn't necessarily know. Fantasy sports players are super consumers. They buy way, way, way over average, even compared to other sports fans, in a lot of categories you could guess, like beer consumption and TVs, but it's also videogames and credit card use and travel and a lot of other things. And while we always felt that was the case, having Dr. Beason and his research available so that we can validate those findings and then help us turn those opportunities into sponsorships online and in other areas has been really valuable.

CAVANAUGH: Tell us a little bit about your company, Paul, League Safe, and the service it provides.

CHARCHIAN: League Safe is very different. There isn't anything quite like it out there yet. What happens, Maureen, is you get an influx of cash into leagues at the beginning of the year. When teams draft, everybody chips in to – sort of their yearly ante. And it's become a big hassle for commissioners who are dealing with checks and late-payers and, you know, different, you know, some cash in, some cash out and then it gets dumped into the commissioner's checking account and then the commissioner's spouse may decide she or he wants to buy new shoes and then they're buying shoes on the league money and then at the end of the football season you've got to pay everybody back. And it just happens that the end of the football season is right after Christmastime and funds are tight and people want to get paid, so League Safe is basically Pay Pal for fantasy leagues. We let everybody pay online and then we escrow all the funds until the end of the year and we pay everybody back.

CAVANAUGH: Dr. Beason, you know, the people that we've heard from in this, who've called in and told us that they play fantasy, they get a group of their own friends together. How much of it is done by people who don't know each other? Who maybe just meet up or hook up on the internet?

DR. BEASON: I think a lot of the folks that started fantasy started in a local league, and this is ten years ago…

CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm.

DR. BEASON: …before the internet. And I would say that's completely reversed now. Most of the teams that the folks manage are going to be with people they don't know.

CAVANAUGH: Ah.

DR. BEASON: Even though I might be here drafting on Labor Day with eleven of my friends that I've been drafting with for ten years, I'm in other leagues that I really don't know any of the folks. So there's a great amount of folks that, you know, I would never know. There's also another dynamic that goes with this and that I have in a Yahoo league in football, that I keep up with friends and college buddies from 25 years ago. We all play in this free Yahoo league and we spend most of our time yapping at each other, you know, as much as we are managing the football team. So it's a great way and, like Facebook or MySpace, to join in a social group to keep up with friends and folks that you've known throughout your life.

CAVANAUGH: I think we should just give a nod to when this all actually began. Before the internet, before it became easy with the software stats and all of that. When did people start actually plucking out players and developing their own leagues and, more or less, measuring them against one another based on the stats of those players?

DR. BEASON: And Paul can help me with this. Football and baseball both started way back in the early – or late sixties, early seventies…

CHARCHIAN: Umm-hmm.

CAVANAUGH: Wow.

CHARCHIAN: That's right.

DR. BEASON: …from stat people. Really, it was by sportcasters, writers, and the media who just were so immersed in statistics and that's sort of how it began.

CAVANAUGH: That's interesting. Now, you know, Paul, with League Safe, it does bring us into the idea that there is a certain amount of cash involved…

CHARCHIAN: Umm-hmm.

CAVANAUGH: …in these fantasy teams. And there has been some sort of – I think some people are still unclear as to where the fantasy sports industry is with issues of gambling and the legality of it all. Maybe you could address that…

CHARCHIAN: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: …for a moment.

CHARCHIAN: You know, it doesn't meet any of the criteria for gambling.

CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm.

CHARCHIAN: There is money involved but there's no house, there's no rake. All the money goes in and out through the league; 100% of the money typically goes back in. When congress cracked down on sports gambling in 2006, they passed a bill that stopped all the offshore betting that was happening in America and they specifically carved out fantasy sports…

CAVANAUGH: Right, umm-hmm.

CHARCHIAN: …because they understood that fantasy sports is not sports gambling in any meaningful way. There's never been a prosecution of a fantasy sports operator or player really for anything but especially for gambling.

CAVANAUGH: And do you find that some people still have a concern about that?

CHARCHIAN: Yeah, we run into it. It's very common for people that don't really understand the fantasy sports audience to immediately assume it's sports betting. And so what we find, where it gets complicated especially, Maureen, is when you're talking to a big company that's maybe interested in getting involved in fantasy sports. As it works its way through the company, you keep running into roadblocks with people that don't understand fantasy and still think it has some gambling ties to it and so that's part of the education process.

CAVANAUGH: Dr. Beason, I have to get back to the fantasy bass fishing. I mean, how in the world do you do that?

DR. BEASON: It's – For me, it was a learning experience. But you basically select a group of anglers that are going to be fishing on any one of the given tournament lakes and then based off of their total catch and they've – you know, a typical tournament's a three or four day tournament, and making the cuts each day and the pounds that they catch, those are all factors figured into it. And then you add it up and then you get ranked according to your skill ability. I didn't do so hot at figuring out who's going to make it past day one, though, so it doesn't go well choosing all my fishing buddies Martin and Saul in Missouri. They didn't work out well.

CAVANAUGH: Now I can understand fantasy sports when there are – I didn't know that there was fish poundage attached to professional fishing, but, you know, when you're talking about American Idol and all these branches that the fantasy…

CHARCHIAN: Umm-hmm.

CAVANAUGH: …sports and different genres that are developing, how do they actually quantify the achievements of the people that they pick to have on their team? Paul, I can…

CHARCHIAN: Yeah, I can address these because I actually play Fantasy American Idol in celebrity leagues…

CAVANAUGH: Okay.

CHARCHIAN: …and I'm in a Hollywood Box Office league. And…

CAVANAUGH: Right.

CHARCHIAN: …you can -- You know, you can always find a way to fantasize almost anything, really. In our Hollywood draft we break the season into three parts. For example, the summer season is May to August and all the blockbusters come and everybody takes turns drafting movies.

CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm.

CHARCHIAN: And at the end of summer, we just add up the gross box office receipts and find out whose movies had made the most money, and that's your winners. For American Idol it's predicting not only who's going to get kicked off but how you – adding players to your roster and how long they're going to survive on American Idol. So there are always ways – there are always ways to find, in any even remote competition, like the Survivor TV show, for example. You can use – that was another common one, figuring out who's going to get kicked off the island. And you – So there are always opportunities and that's – we find that people are incredibly creative and inventive in finding ways to work fantasy play and do almost anything they feel passionate about.

CAVANAUGH: I want to ask you both, I'll start with you Dr. Beason, where do you see the fantasy sports industry going in the future?

DR. BEASON: I think that the fantasy sports is going to diffuse, basically move across other sport levels. Football will probably always remain the top fantasy sport played. But as we were talking about, it's moving into different genres and not only going outside of fantasy sports but it's tiering itself within fantasy sports. And as technology develops, without a doubt, fantasy sport companies, providers, will be keeping up with that and probably actually leading the way in developing a lot of these interaction and these social group interactions because this is such a popular sport with such a popular demographic.

CAVANAUGH: And…

CHARCHIAN: And I think what Dr. Kim is saying is right on but – and I'll add one other area. Internationally, it's starting to pick up steam. It all started here with baseball and football but we're now finding that internationally it's become – it's where we were perhaps six or seven or eight years ago in America, where it's picking up a lot of steam and being applied to the sports that they play there, you know, rugby, soccer, cricket, etcetera.

CAVANAUGH: And I'm wondering, Dr. Beason, as these statistics come fast and furiously, as people are able to keep up on this so immediately and being able to computate all the things they need to do, is there – do you see any area where actually the fantasy sports like football and so forth are actually developing some genres where they're getting more complicated?

DR. BEASON: You can make the contest extremely complicated and there's actually some folks that play the contest that like it that way. When you – One of the things that we're finding is as more people play fantasy sports they're becoming more adept at playing and, therefore, there's folks that are looking at additional edges that they once had maybe five, seven years ago where maybe in a league of twelve only a couple of them really knew what was going on. Now in a league of twelve, most of them are going to know what's going on. So they're looking at avenues of information sources that they can gain to increase their ability to play. So that makes it a little bit more, you know, sophisticated. And there's contests being developed that are much more sophisticated for those advance players. So the great thing about this, it can be – playing fantasy sports can be so simple that somebody who has no background in a particular sport can sit down and, in a short time, be competitive. Or it can become so complex that for those really engrossed folks who are super fans or fanatics, diehards, they're also being – You know, there's services and contests being made available to them also.

CAVANAUGH: We've run out of time, gentlemen, but thank you so much. I appreciate both of your information and being so lighthearted about all this.

CHARCHIAN: It's still a game and it's still fun. Thanks, Maureen.

DR. BEASON: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you. Paul Charchian is president of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, owner of a company called League Safe. And Dr. Kim Beason is the godfather of fantasy sports market research. Thank you both again.

DR. BEASON: Well, thank you.

CAVANAUGH: And you've been listening to These Days on KPBS.

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