Fantasy Sports Accounted For Most Of Q3’s TV Ad Growth: Analysts

The ripple effects in media from New York State’s crackdown on fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel might be bigger than many industry watchers imagined, according to two reports out today.

Analyses by MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson and Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger show that ad outlays by the fantasy sports firms noticeably lifted TV network financial results in Q3.

If DraftKings and FanDuel are forced to the sidelines by New York’s charge that they’re gambling sites in disguise then “network owners should be concerned,” Nathanson says. “Killing the golden goose of [daily fantasy sports] would definitely be against the interest of the NFL’s network partners.”

He figures the two fantasy firms spent more than $118 million in September, accounting for 3% of total TV ad sales. DraftKings shelled out $65.4 million, making it the No. 10 broadcast and cable advertiser (between Verizon and Comcast), and FanDuel spent $52.6 million, good for No. 15 (between Fox and Pfizer).

The September outlays “represent the initial national marketing push which coincided with the start of the NFL season,” Nathanson adds. The sites “appear to have pulled back in advertising as the season has progressed.”

Fox benefited most in the month, collecting $23.6 million from the fantasy firms, about 6% of its total sales, the analyst says. It’s followed by CBS with $21.5 million (4% of its total), NBC with $21.3 million (4%), ESPN with $17.9 million (7%) and ABC with $6.5 million (1%).

Juenger figures the fantasy firms spent $134 million in Q3, accounting for 59% of the overall growth in TV ad sales.

“This huge influx of money directly flowed to the sports networks — but its impact was felt well beyond that,” he says. “By claiming huge chunks of inventory in an already inventory-scarce environment, this spending drove up scatter pricing across the board,” helping Scripps, Discovery and AMC Networks as well as sports broadcasters.

The analyst estimates that CBS saw $29 million in fantasy football dollars, accounting for about 3% of its total Q3 ad revenue. It was followed by Disney’s ESPN with $23 million (1.3% of its total), Comcast’s NBC with $21 million (2.6%) and Fox with $18 million (3.3%). The remaining $44 million went to other networks, accounting for 1.8% of their total.

Last week CBS chief Les Moonves told an investor gathering that “we like their money. We like their advertising. We want them to succeed. But this is not a monumental event for us.”

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