NFL season finally got under way this past weekend and as I checked my lineups and last-minute injury reports to make sure my fantasy football squad was good to go, I couldn’t help but wonder why aren’t there any web series about this national obsession?
This market is huge, with an estimated 27.7 million Americans playing at least one fantasy sport, it’s said to be a $1.5 billion market and growing. It even has its own trade association now. Just for comparison, the much-lauded so-called “World of Warcraft market” has about 11.5 million monthly subscribers. Arguably the most popular scripted web series to date, The Guild, has a large part of its success to owe to that audience which it so playfully depicts.
So with a high-value audience, accustomed to shelling out cash for premium content, it only further begs the question of where are the web series for this crowd?
As luck would have it, I happened to pop open my email inbox to serendipitously find that question answered with a fresh tip of a new web series dubbed The League. It’s too early to try to make any direct comparisons between The Guild and The League, but it did catch our eye. Even the URL they chose, watchtheleague.com is conveniently close to watchtheguild.com.
But as a fantasy sports gamer for over a decade now, I can say in terms of the nuances of portraying the quirks of your average late 20-something fantasy players, they nailed it. Instead of a simple comedy series, hitting the easy satire notes of fantasy fanatics and smack talk, we get a much richer dramatic story playing out. We meet Ben Porter, a refreshingly real young male protag, dealing with real person issues like financial headaches, a new baby on the way and perhaps some budding gambling issues.
There’s even some kind of side series called Tommy’s Tips which is basically some dimly lit vlogs that offer some practical pointers on playing fantasy football. To be sure, these are pretty amateur and come off more like three-beer babble than any real nuggets of advice. And throw in a somewhat sparse FFL News page, which aggregates headlines from RotoWorld with some original writing and you get the idea. Either way, they get the idea that fantasy fans are hungry for any edge—real or perceived—that can put them over the top in their leagues.
Then there’s the major fantasy sports sites themselves like Yahoo, ESPN and CBSSportsline, which put out a fair amount of short videos, though none really are branded as their own standout series. We found another scripted series tackling (had to) this cult-like subgenre called Fantasy Over Reality, which looks like more straight comedy spin on the new pastime. They recently posted the pilot episode (above) but are apparently holding out on episode 2 as there’s a distributor interested in picking it up. Now we’re talking. There’s also a handful of audio podcasts, like The Fantasy Football Guys and Fantasy Football Rants & Raves, but still, from what we can tell it’s still a wide open field.
Top photo by Daniel Y. Go.
Know of any good fantasy football web series? Leave a comment below and let us know!