Fantasy Football to Cost Employers $9B, Bring Workers Together

Listening to podcasts at your desk, checking stats in meetings, and ranking priorities during a conference call are all things workers do in the office. However, in the weeks leading up to Labor Day, the weekend that traditionally kicks off draft season, these activities are all related to Fantasy Football. Employers should use the phenomenon to bring workers together, despite the billion-dollar price tag, according to one workplace authority.

An estimated 12.5 million adults will play Fantasy Football this year, according to 2018 data from Nielsen Scarborough. With an estimated total of nearly two-thirds of those adults employed, that means over 7.5 million workers will be researching their teams during work hours.

The added distraction over the next 17 weeks of pre-season and regular season games could cost employers billions of dollars in lost wages, according to estimates from global outplacement and executive and business coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“It’s difficult to measure the financial impact on employers, as there’s no way to determine how many people are managing their teams at work or how long they’re spending on these activities,” said Andrew Challenger, Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“That said, with games airing on Monday and Thursday nights and workers checking their teams after all games for injuries and performance, it’s likely workers at least glance at their teams every day of the regular and pre-seasons,” he added.

A recent survey from OppLoans found Fantasy Football players spend 6.9 hours per week on their teams, and 96.6% reported spending time on their teams at work. A perusal of Reddit threads and Quora answers revealed people reportedly spend between ten minutes to five hours a day on their teams.

  • Challenger estimates workers spend 30 minutes during otherwise productive time – meaning outside breaks or the lunch hour – every work day checking their players, proposing trades, and researching the league. For its estimate, Challenger used the Nielsen finding that 12.5 million adults play Fantasy Football.
  • Applying the current employment-population ratio of 60.7, according to seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 7,587,500 of these Fantasy Football players are employed. With an average hourly wage of $27.98 in July, according to the BLS, employers lose $212.3 million for every hour of work time players spend on Fantasy Football.
  • If players spend 2.5 hours on Fantasy Football each week over the 17 weeks of the pre- and regular seasons, the cumulative loss totals $9,022,675,625.

“This number only represents workplaces in the U.S. The number balloons when you take into account the global population. It’s little wonder how Fantasy Sports has become an estimated $7 billion industry,” said Challenger.

Stats from the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association say there are 59.3 million Fantasy Sports players in the U.S. and Canada, 18% of whom are adults. The average annual spending of a Fantasy Sports player who is over the age of 18 is $556 on subscription materials, leagues, and research, according to the trade association.

“While the cost to employers seems high, it likely will not affect any individual company’s bottom line. Frankly, especially in such a tense political climate, Fantasy Football should be embraced as a welcome distraction,” said Challenger.

“In fact, Fantasy Football can be a boost to a company’s bottom line in terms of higher morale and lower turnover. These types of distractions can keep workers’ creative juices flowing. Fantasy Football can provide workers with common ground and a reason to connect when they otherwise would not interact. For these reasons, employers may want to encourage Fantasy Football leagues within the office,” said Challenger.