Fantasy Football Leagues have been growing in popularity and marketers have taken notice. This is why the teaming of Yahoo Sports and Buffalo Wild Wings to create National Draft Day is branding gold and a major win for both companies. Is this Fantasy Draft Day more exciting for fan than the NFL Draft?

National Draft Day 2013Yahoo Sports & Buffalo Wild Wings team up to bring you National Draft Day 2013 on Aug. 24
Buffalo Wild Wings and Yahoo! Sports are creating the ultimate kickoff to fantasy football season. The Buffalo Wild Wings and Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football National Draft Day will be the first-of-its-kind “holiday” and will take place Saturday, Aug. 24, all across the nation.

This is branding gold!

With the integrated partnership, Buffalo Wild Wings is encouraging its 
guests to sign up for Fantasy Football through Yahoo! Sports, one of the
leading sites for fantasy sports, and hold their drafts at their local 
Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant where free wi-fi is available. Guests 
interested in hosting their fantasy football draft at a Buffalo Wild Wings
are encouraged to call their local restaurant to reserve a spot.
Registered groups of eight or more will receive an exclusive draft kit 
that includes $100 in free food (for a future visit). Guests who sign up 
to hold their drafts on Aug. 24 at Buffalo Wild Wings will also receive 
free t-shirts (while supplies last). 

“Fantasy football is not only a passion for our Guests, but a lifestyle.
We are proud to launch National Fantasy Football Draft Day with Yahoo! 
Sports to bring our loyal Guests expert tips, commentary and exclusive 
content,” said Benning.     

From 12-2 p.m. CDT on Aug. 24, the celebration will include a live 
streamed fantasy football show hosted by Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football 
experts Brandon Funston and Kay Adams. During the show, which will be 
shown exclusively in Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants, football fans at 
Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants in Irving, Texas, and Oakdale, Minn. will 
have the opportunity to ask questions and interact directly with Yahoo! 
Sports Fantasy Football gurus Brad “Big Noise” Evans (Irving) and Andy 
Behrens (Oakdale), who will be reporting live from each location.


Total viewership of the first round of the draft on ESPN and NFL Network totaled a combined 20 million viewers, according to The Nielsen Company, making it the most-watched cable show of the night. The combined average for ESPN and NFL Network was 7.7 million, almost doubling the History Channel's "Swamp People" (4 million viewers), the next-most watched cable program on that Thursday. Read more on the NFL's Media Blitz

2013 NFL DraftHow the 2013 NFL Draft made it to Primetime
The legend goes that when a fledgling ESPN asked NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to televise the 1980 NFL Draft, even the PR-savvy Mr. Rozelle doubted anybody would tune in.   

Fast-forward 33 years and John Brody, senior VP-sponsorship and sales  for the NFL, expected 50 million viewers to watch the three-day event  across ESPN, NFL Network and NFL Mobile last Thursday through Saturday  nights.

Among league sponsors and advertisers, the NFL Draft is now viewed as a 
"tentpole event" where they can directly connect their brands to the  country's
most-popular sports league, Mr. Brody said. A confirmed 19  sponsors activated
around this year's event at Radio City Music Hall vs. 16 in 2012. Among them:
Anheuser-Busch; Nike; Verizon; Pepsi; GMC; Visa; EA Sports; Under Armour;
Gatorade; and Castrol.   

Despite the recession, ad support is growing for the NFL Draft, which  now
competes with entertainment and reality shows in the heart of prime  time.
Advertisers spent roughly $15 million across ESPN and NFL Network  in 2012 vs.
$11.9 million in 2011, according to Kantar Media.   

Current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell moved Round 1 to Thursday nights  in
2010 from its longtime perch on Saturdays. The gamble paid off:  ESPN's Round 1
coverage last year averaged 6.7 million viewers and a 4.4 rating vs. 5.1 million
viewers and a 3.4 rating in 2009.  

"To the credit of the NFL, it's the most robust league," said Ernest 
, founder of branding consultancy Ernest Industries
"They announced the [2013 regular season] schedule and people went  crazy.
It was as if they let us know they were bringing the McRib  sandwich back."  

"Our sponsors crave more access and more connection to the game the same way
the fans do," according to Mr. Brody. "Our partners are enablers:  They're the
ones who connect the sport to the fans."  

Here's how sponsors such as Verizon, A-B and Nike integrated their brands
into the festivities:   
  • Verizon was the presenting sponsor of Round 3. The company hosted
    a "Draft Eve" party Wednesday, where its executives and customers
    mingled  with top draft picks and NFL starts. 
  • Bud Light signed on to sponsor Round 2 Friday night as well as sponsor 
    ESPN's coverage. Bud Light's promotion offered to fly 32 NFL fans to  New York
    (one representing each team's fan base) and give them a VIP  experience that
    included a dinner reception with 32 NFL alumni, along  with green-room access at
    Radio City.  
  • Nike, which took over as the NFL's official outfitter last season from
    Reebok, provided top prospects with No. 1 Nike jerseys. Similarly, the  league's
    official cap, New Era, handed out special "Draft Caps" to  prospects onstage.
    That's prime product placement when prospects  ascended the stage for the
    traditional handshake and hug with Mr.   Goodell.  

By:   Michael McCarthy