Ladies & Gentlemen, May I Present To You The Official Bachelor Fantasy League... Sweepstakes?
Well, it's about damn time.
ABC is teaming up with Disney family member ESPN to launch a "fantasy league" platform for the upcoming season of ABC's The Bachelor. Fans who genuinely love the show and "fans" who genuinely love to mock the show have done personal games for years ranging from simple tourney brackets to full-fledged fantasy leagues. This is very different, though. The season premiere is on January 2, but players have until January 16 to make their "top 4" picks, i.e., which four girls will make it to the Hometown dates and who will get the Final Rose in the finale. Furthermore, players can participate in weekly games that offer additional opportunities for points and prizes. Here are a few brief notes y'all might be interested in reading:
1. After registering, players can participate in a season-long game or weekly games.
This free game is powered through ABC's website and the ESPN app. Similar to many of the platforms for fantasy sports contests, players can form private leagues with their friends and family or can play against random people they find on Twitter by using the infamous "#BachelorNation" hashtag.
Also, in a similar fashion, there is a grand prize giveaway at the end of the season where players can accumulate points by making "Season Long Predictions", which implies investing time in the entire season, and playing "Weekly Games", which implies investing separate week-by-week only if you feel like it. With respect to the season-long style, correctly predicting a Hometown Date earns a player 50 points (which means selecting all four correctly gives a player 200 points), and correctly predicting the Final Rose contestant earns a player 150 points. With respect to the weekly style, a player can earn 10 points for correctly answering the weekly question and 20 points for correctly answering the weekly bonus question.
2. ABC refers to this whole shebang - "The Bachelor Fantasy League" - in legal terms as the "Sweepstakes" to indicate that this game is not "gambling", buuuut the legality here may be standing in the same grey area as fantasy sports.
The word "sweepstakes" has legal significance in the marketing world - and ABC obviously knows it - because the law views a sweepstakes as basically the furthest thing away from "gambling." Under law, a sweepstakes is a "no purchase necessary" legal game of chance since the player has no control over the outcome. Alternatively, the law views a "contest" as a game of skill that would bring this game dangerously close to the fantasy sports gray area & the "gambling" conversation. States also use one of the following tests for determining fantasy sports legality: pure chance, predominant element, material element, and any chance.
Here, the situation is interesting. ABC wants to call this game both a "fantasy league" and a "sweepstakes". Are these two formats capable of referring to the same game if fantasy is a game of skill while a sweepstakes is supposedly a game of luck? The name itself is contradictory to an extent. It could be that ABC is trying to draw attention through the success of the daily fantasy sports industry to a TV show that - in its 21st season - could be losing its popularity but trying to do so avoiding the legality question altogether. It is not the traditional fantasy format where you set a "lineup" each week that could change, but the weekly games for prizes resemble daily fantasy games that ironically are being hotly contested in courts. After all, daily fantasy and season-long fantasy are only two of the many formats of fantasy we are starting to see. The Official Rules state, "Void where prohibited or restricted by law," and in some states like Michigan, fantasy sports may technically be illegal regardless of whether players pay an entry fee.
I don't know about you, but my experience with The Bachelor series is that fans do develop mad skills predicting the outcome of episodes and who gets the final rose. Those skills could help them correctly predict how the season ends. Sorry, Chris Harrison, but I beg to differ that each episode of every season is THE MOST SHOCKING ONE YET. Moreover, sitting through an episode in its entirety to answer weekly questions could be considered a skill in and of itself. For real.
[Note the small print at the end of the sweepstakes: "NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. & D.C., 18 or older. Ends 4:59pm PT on 3/3/17. Hometown dates/final rose predictions must be submitted by 1/16/17 at 4:59pm PT. Correct predictions earn entries. Winners randomly selected. Grand Prize includes travel in August 2017. See Official Rules for full details including eligibility, hot to play, weekly entry deadlines, prize descriptions & limitations. Void where prohibited."]
So, if your state is very strict about fantasy sports or daily fantasy sports, you may want to rethink participating here. When all is said and done, players should not have anything to worry about, but being fully aware of the law in your jurisdiction, how it is applied, and whether it works is generally a good idea.