FanDuel Or DraftKings? We compare the two DFS leaders
Legal Sports Report

FanDuel vs DraftKings – Who’s Number 1 In Daily Fantasy?

Last updated August 18, 2016

At the stage of the daily fantasy sports industry, it’s DraftKings vs FanDuel, with every other operator battling for third.

We’ve assembled the following comparison of the two DFS titans. We’re not going to tell you whether DraftKings or FanDuel is “better” simply because that’s ultimately a subjective decision, but the tables below should provide you with a sense of which operator best lines up with what you’re looking for in a DFS site.

We’ve also got an in-depth comparison of how the two titans fared in the most recent NFL season.

DraftKings vs FanDuel: Sports offered

This is arguably the greatest point of divergence between the two DFS leaders. DraftKings offers a wide array of sports, including golf, that you won’t find in the lobby at FanDuel.

 FanDuelDraftKings
Visit FanDuelVisit DraftKings
Opening bonus / promo codeFive free entries to NFL contestsFree entry to NFL contest on deposit
NFL footballYesYes
College footballNoNo
Pro baseballYesYes
Pro basketballYesYes
College basketballNoNo
Pro hockeyYesYes
Pro golfNoYes
Pro soccerNoYes
NASCARNoYes
MMANoYes
eSportsNoYes

DraftKings vs FanDuel: Platform comparison

At the the top level, the platforms of FanDuel vs DraftKing are virtually identical. The differences emerge more in the areas of nuance and personal preference among individual DFS players.

 FanDuelDraftKings
Visit FanDuelVisit DraftKings
Opening bonus / promo codeFive free entries to NFL contestsFree entry to NFL contest on deposit
PayPal DepositsYesYes
Credit card deposits YesYes
Free contestsYesYes
Referral programYesYes
iOS app (real-money play)YesYes
Android app (real-money play)YesYes
Highest Stakes$1,065$5,300
TournamentsYesYes
Leagues (public)YesYes
Leagues (private)YesYes
H2HYesYes
50/50YesYes
MultipliersYesYes
"Beginner" contestsYesYes
Lineup creation toolsStandard along with advanced multi-entry toolsStandard along with advanced multi-entry tools
Resources for playersFanDuel InsiderPlaybook
Affiliate programYesYes

DraftKings vs FanDuel: Comparing the companies

The tale of the tape on this front offers reasons to prefer both DraftKings and FanDuel. FanDuel held greater market share in 2014, but DraftKings has raised more money following a massive round in the summer of 2015.

The sites were generally pretty close in terms of size, revenue and users through 2015 and the first half of 2016. DraftKings offers sports not available at FanDuel, and thus has revenue opportunities that its competitor does not during the less busy summer months.

 FanDuelDraftKings
Funding to date (mm)$363$426
Reported valuation$1.2bn$1.2bn
Pro team sponsorships (est)3056
Fantasy lounges at major arenas46
Major league partnershipsNBAMLB, NHL
Based inNew YorkBoston
Official Twitter@FanDuel@DraftKings

Contents

DraftKings vs FanDuel: NFL 2015 Season

Every week take an in-depth look at FanDuel vs DraftKings’ NFL performance Below, you can review the history of the back-and-forth between FanDuel and DraftKings for the top spot in the daily fantasy sports industry during the 2015 NFL season, with in-depth analysis of who won that week of NFL DFS.

DraftKings Entry Fees Up, FanDuel Down Slightly In NFL Week 16

After weeks of falling or stagnant entry fees, the major players in daily fantasy sports apparently enjoyed a decent second-to-last Sunday of the NFL regular season, according to a weekly report released Thursday by DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com.

The lowdown for NFL Week 16

NFL Week 16 was particularly good for DraftKings, which posted its largest gain in entry fees for its NFL guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) in two months. FanDuel, meanwhile, managed to hold relatively steady from the week before.

And after DraftKings raked in more in entry fees for its Sunday NFL GPPs than FanDuel brought across all its Sunday games, DraftKings emerged as the No. 1 in NFL DFS, according to SuperLobby.

In addition, both sites again posted strong NBA numbers, especially FanDuel, which again managed to bring in more in entry fees from pro basketball for the week of Dec. 16 through Dec. 22 than its NFL Week 16 Sunday games.

Legal concerns for DFS still in play

While the legal and regulatory environment remains cloudy, both sites seemed to be aided by remaining active in New York and avoiding shutdowns in other states.

The focal point last week was in Illinois, where the state’s attorney general said in a legal opinion that DFS is indeed illegal gambling under state law and that the sites should leave. Both sites continue to operate in Illinois, but the stakes are high.

Concerns about DFS have popped up in other states, too, including most recently in Missouri. In other words, it was another normal week in the daily fantasy sports industry.

A good week at DraftKings

After posting a modest uptick in entry fees for its Sunday Week 15 games, DraftKings surged forward in Week 16, according to SuperLobby data.

DraftKings attracted $18.1 million in GPP entry fees in Week 16, up from $17.2 million in Week 15. Better yet for DraftKings, it was able to hold its payouts steady from the week before at $16.4 million. That allowed the DFS giant to increase its net revenue from about $815,000 to $1.8 million, or 9.7 percent.

Down a bit at FanDuel

FanDuel held much of its ground by taking in $11.5 million in entry fees for its GPP contests, which is down slightly from $11.8 million in Week 15, according to FanDuel’s own preliminary numbers sent on Monday to Legal Sports Report.

But its effective margin fell from 11.8 percent to 10.9 percent. For all of its GPPs, FanDuel brought in $1.3 million in net revenue, down slightly from $1.4 million in Week 15.

Across all of FanDuel’s NFL games for Sunday, including its non-guaranteed contests (DraftKings does not release that data), FanDuel raked in $17.4 million in entry fees, which is down slightly from $17.8 million in Week 15. By paying out $15.6 million, FanDuel posted net revenue of $1.8 million, which is down from $1.9 million.

The NBA part of the equation

Once again, though, FanDuel received a boost from its NBA games. FanDuel brought in $20.4 million in entry fees across all its NBA contests held from Dec. 16 through Dec. 22, according to SuperLobby. FanDuel paid out $18.3 million for those games, posting a margin of 10 percent and net revenue of $2.1 million.

Meanwhile, DraftKings took in $13.6 million for its NBA GPPs and paid out $12.2 million. That was good for net revenue of about $1.4 million and an effective margin of 10.8 percent.

A closer look at the DFS numbers

According to the SuperLobby data:

  • With one week to go, FanDuel has posted $39.4 million in net revenue across all its games for the entire NFL season.
  • Counting just its GPPs, DraftKings has brought in $23.8 million in net revenue.
  • FanDuel’s NFL entry fee numbers fell for the 10th consecutive week.
  • FanDuel has so far posted an effective margin of 10 percent or better for 13 of the NFL’s 16 weeks.
  • DraftKing’s effective margin of 9.74 percent for Week 16 more than doubled Week 15’s 4.75 percent margin.
  • Yahoo remains the clear but distant No. 3 in DFS, drawing $657,070 in entry fees while paying out $627,500 for Week 16.

More on advertising

Both DraftKings and FanDuel remained relatively quiet on the advertising front, once again falling short of the weekly iSpot.tv top 10 of television advertisers.

But analysis of the DFS giants’ advertising binge has continued to trickle in. Through Dec. 14, DraftKings and FanDuel spent a combined $300 million on television ads, according to iSpot and the Wall Street Journal.

Many believe that the advertising tactics early in the NFL season may in fact be what initially turned regulators’ eyes toward the industry.  

DraftKings, though, says that advertising has played an important role in the growth of daily fantasy sports.

“Television advertising has served us well in introducing DraftKings to new players and informing current players of innovations in our game offerings,” DraftKings said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.

Goodbye to the NFL regular season

One last week of the NFL means at least one more week to tweak DraftKings’ Millionaire Maker contest. For the season finale, DraftKings again is offering a $4 million prize pool. But the entry fee will return to $20 a week after the DFS heavyweight bumped the fee to $1,500 and limited the contest to 2,960 spots.

In addition, DraftKings will offer a $1.25 million contest for a $3 entry fee.

After weeks of changes, FanDuel appears to have settled in with its headliner contest. For the fourth consecutive week FanDuel will offer a $1.75 million prize pool, $175,000 to the winner, for its Sunday Million contest. The entry fee will also remain unchanged at $25. FanDuel will again offer a $1.2 million Sunday NFL Rush contest for a $5 entry.

Of course, both sites will be hoping for a strong final full Sunday of the NFL season.

With no imminent state shutdowns before the final week of the NFL regular season, and enthusiasm for the playoffs ahead, both sites could very well enjoy a bump in action this week.

Daily Fantasy Sports Metrics For NFL Week 15 Offer Mixed Bag For DraftKings, FanDuel

A temporary reprieve in New York last week gave the daily fantasy sports industry hope that it could stem the tide of falling entry fees in guaranteed prize pool (GPP) contests.

The first Sunday of NFL action since then, however, provided a mixed picture in NFL Week 15, according to a weekly report released Tuesday by DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com.

How mixed?

DraftKings managed to post its first week-over-week entry-fee gain in two months, but its net revenue from GPPs was cut by more than half. Meanwhile, FanDuel, which allowed play from New York and recently started accepting deposits from the state again, experienced its 10th consecutive week of falling entry fees. Yet FanDuel also posted more net revenue than DraftKings.

And then there was another surprise last week:

In the chaos of this uncertain regulatory environment, it might be easy to miss, but the NBA season has been a relative bright spot for the DFS industry. And last week both sites again posted impressive entry fee totals and NFL-like effective margins (net revenue), even if each site showed a downtick in week-over-week entry fees.

“Both of the Big Two (in DFS) have been showing a comfortable level of profit each week and this was no different,” said David Copeland, CEO of SuperLobby, in his NBA data from last week.

A mixed bag in the NFL

More than two months have gone by since DraftKings or FanDuel last posted a gain in GPP entry fees for their Sunday NFL games, according to SuperLobby data.

That changed Sunday when DraftKings hauled in $17.2 million for its Week 15 GPP contests, up a tick from $17.1 million in Week 14. But the news was not all good at DraftKings.

DraftKings paid out $16.4 million, up from $15.2 million, as it returned its headline Millionaire Maker contest to a $5 million guarantee. The higher payout dropped its effective margin to about $815,000, or 4.75 percent. That is down from $1.9 million the week before.

Entry fees for FanDuel’s GPP contests fell to $11.8 million from $12.5 million, according to FanDuel’s own preliminary numbers sent to Legal Sports Report. But it also managed to preserve much of its profit, boosting its effective margin to 11.8 percent. For all of its GPPs, FanDuel brought in $1.4 million in net revenue, down slightly from $1.5 million in Week 14.

Across all of FanDuel’s NFL games for Sunday, including its non-guaranteed contests (DraftKings does not release that data), FanDuel saw its entry fees drop from $18.8 million in Week 14 to $17.8 million in Week 15.

By comparison, FanDuel brought in $20.7 million in entry fees across all its NBA contests held from Dec. 9 through Dec. 15, according to SuperLobby. FanDuel paid out $18.6 million for those games, posting a margin of 10.3 percent and net revenue of $2.1 million.

DraftKings, with only GPP data available, raked in $13.8 million and paid out $12.5 million. That was good for net revenue of nearly $1.3 million and an effective margin of 9.8 percent.

NFL will remain king, of course, but NBA revenues bear watching as they help blunt the effects of a football slowdown.

A closer look at the DFS numbers

According to the SuperLobby data:

  • FanDuel’s 10.83 percent effective margin for Week 15 was its second highest of the NFL season, bested only by the 10.89 percent it posted in Week 5. It is also FanDuel’s fourth straight week of increasing effective margins.
  • FanDuel’s season-long effective margin sits at 9.1 percent.
  • DraftKings’ week-over-week gain in entry fees was its first gain in nine weeks.
  • DraftKings’ 4.75 percent margin was its lowest since the second week of the NFL season.
  • Across the eight sites that reported data, there was $35.55 million of entry fees paid on Sunday. Earlier this year, FanDuel alone generated higher entry fee totals in a single week.
  • Data from Yahoo, DFS’ distant No. 3, was not reported by SuperLobby.

Advertising still not registering

For the sixth consecutive Monday, neither DraftKings nor FanDuel registered in the iSpot.tv top 10 of television advertisers. This has become par for the course as both companies have significantly ratcheted down their ad spending in recent months.

That does not mean the presence on the airwaves of both daily fantasy sports giants has not been pervasive. Just last week iSpot.tv updated the year for both sites, and DraftKings and FanDuel apparently have placed nearly 80,000 television ads through the first 11 months of the year.

That is a staggering amount of advertising for two companies that were not widely know more than a year ago.

On deck for DFS

Change has been the new normal in the headliner games in the closing weeks of the NFL season, especially at DraftKings, which has tinkered with its Millionaire Maker contest significantly over the last few weeks.

For NFL Week 16, the GPP for the Millionaire Maker will once again drop. This time it will move from $5 million to $4 million; the entry fee is set at $1,500. Just two weeks ago, DraftKings set its entry fee for its Millionaire Maker at $3.

DraftKings does have two more $1 million-plus GPP contests for Week 15, with price points set at $50 ($1.7 million guaranteed, $150,000 to winner) and $5 ($1.25 million guarantee, $100,000 to the winner).

Conversely, FanDuel’s headliner Sunday Million will stay the same for the third consecutive week with a $1.75 million guarantee and $175,000 to the winner. The entry fee again is $25. It also offers its $1.2 million Sunday NFL Rush contest for a $5 entry.

It will be interesting how DraftKings’ Millionaire Maker shakeup changes its margins for Week 16. Of course, any momentum can be dashed by, say, another legal or regulatory battle in a large state.

Daily Fantasy Sports Entry Fees Keep Dropping At DraftKings, FanDuel For NFL Week 14

A wild Friday in the daily fantasy sports industry started with what appeared to be a complete shutdown of DFS sites in New York. Later in the day, a temporary reprieve was issued. 

With that backdrop, it was a rough week for the major DFS operators’ guaranteed prize pool (GPP) contests in the NFL, according to a weekly report released Tuesday by DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com.

While FanDuel and DraftKings reduced their payouts, falling entry fees hampered all nine sites SuperLobby tracks, including a double-digit percentage drop at FanDuel.

Of course, much of this is somewhat predictable as uncertainty in New York continues and regulator interest piquing in other states. To put the stakes in New York in some perspective:

That easily makes it among the largest markets for DFS. But while entry fees have been down, nearly as important is that both DraftKings and FanDuel have remained in the black on their contest offerings.

A tough week for DFS operators

Another week brought another significant drop in entry fees for both DFS giants, but both managed to blunt the blow of falling revenue by boosting their effective margins.

DraftKings saw its eighth consecutive week of falling GPP entry fees for its Sunday NFL games. It hauled in $17.1 million in entry fees for Week 14, down from $18.5 million in Week 13.

As it did last week, DraftKings was able to preserve much of its net revenue by reducing its payouts. DraftKings paid out $15.2 million, down significantly from $16.5 million the week before. That boosted its effective margin to 11.1 percent from 10.7 percent. But its net revenue from its GPPs still fell from $2 million to $1.9 million.

FanDuel reopened to the New York market after Friday’s legal wrangling — New Yorkers with cash already in their accounts could play contests at FanDuel, although no new deposits were allowed.

But FanDuel still saw its GPPs take another hit, too. FanDuel brought in $12.5 million in GPP entry fees, a drop from $14.8 million in Week 13, according to FanDuel’s own preliminary numbers sent to Legal Sports Report.

FanDuel managed to boost its effective margin to 11.7 percent, up from 10.97 percent, with pay outs of $11 million. That left FanDuel with only a slight drop in net revenue, from $1.56 million to $1.5 million, for all its GPPs.

Across all of FanDuel’s NFL games for Sunday, including its non-guaranteed contests (DraftKings does not release that data), FanDuel saw its entry fees drop from $21.3 million in Week 13 to $18.8 million in Week 14 after taking a hit to its cash games.

A closer look at the DFS numbers

According to the SuperLobby data:

  • DraftKings’ GPP entry fees were down 7.5 percent week over week and 32 percent from its Week 5 high of $25 million.
  • FanDuel’s 11.7 percent drop in entry fees from Week 13 across all its games dropped it further from its Week 6 high of $40 million. That marks a 53 percent drop.
  • Despite the consistent week-over-week drops in entry fees, FanDuel has posted 14 consecutive profitable weeks.
  • No. 3 DFS operators Yahoo brought in $779,896 in entry fees and paid out $729,000, posting another profitable week. But Yahoo entry fees are down 40 percent since its Week 5 high of $1.32 million.
  • All nine of the sites SuperLobby tracks posted a season low in entry fees.

Another conservative week in DFS advertising

For the fifth straight Monday morning, neither DraftKings nor FanDuel registered in the iSpot.tv top 10 of television advertisers.

This is of little surprise as both DFS heavyweights have significantly altered their marketing plans since the early NFL onslaught, presumably in part to conserve their resources for the current legal battles. By contrast, DraftKings and FanDuel combined to spend nearly $120 million on advertising in September alone, according to analysis from MoffettNathanson.

The landscape has changed dramatically, too. Last week, ESPN and officials of the College Football Playoff agreed not to air daily fantasy sports ads during the broadcast of the semifinals and championship game. This is a trend in college sports, as daily fantasy ads will also be barred from the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in March.

And among all the legal turmoil for daily fantasy sports, there was concern last week in Massachusetts and New York about the effect of television advertising.

The week ahead for DFS

After dramatically altering its headliner Millionaire Maker contest, last week DraftKings apparently wants to make another splash in Week 15.

With New York offering at least some certainty for the time being, the Millionaire Maker will offer a $5 million guarantee for the first time since Week 12 of the NFL season, with $1 million again going to the winner. In addition, the entry fee is back up to $20.

Last week, DraftKings dropped the entry fee to $3 and offered just a $2.5 million guarantee. The smaller entry fee could have had an impact on DraftKings’ total entry fee take.

After dropping the guarantee of its Sunday Million contest ahead of Week 14, FanDuel will hold course for Week 15 with a $1.75 million guarantee and $175,000 to the winner. The entry fee will remain the same, too, at $25.

A major test could be this week when DraftKings and FanDuel, which is allowing action but not taking new deposits in the Empire State, both operate in New York for the first time since November when the attorney general ordered both sites “to stop taking bets” in New York.

Perhaps the short-term fix in New York will provide some confidence for DFS players.

Entry Fees At DraftKings, FanDuel Down Again, Revenues Up For NFL Week 13

DraftKings and FanDuel appear to have found an effective way to tread water while the legal waters remain murky, at least for their NFL games.

Despite another week of falling entry fees in their guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) contests for NFL Week 13, both of the daily fantasy sports kingpins managed to boost their margins, according to a weekly report released Tuesday by DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com.

That passes as a relative win for both DraftKings and FanDuel, where each had suffered week-over-week declines in entry fees for what is now nearly two months.

That shows that for the time being both sites have adjusted to their new realities in which states like New York and Nevada have recently hampered the ability for DFS sites to operate. And, they have adjusted to the numbers playing their contests after both sites have drastically scaled back advertising.

That adjustment can be seen in DraftKings’ and FanDuel’s marquee NFL games, for which DraftKings has essentially reformatted its Millionaire Maker contest for Week 14 and FanDuel again dropped its guarantee for its Sunday Million.

“This week’s focus from the big two appears to have been how well each of them have optimized their contest lobbies,” wrote David Copeland, CEO of SuperLobby, in his weekly NFL report. “Despite taking in almost $600,000 less in entry fees than last week, FanDuel saw their revenues almost exactly flat as a result of increasing their effective margin. DraftKings also posted impressive numbers with an increased effective margin, providing further proof that the pricing and sizing of contests is all important in this game.”

Net revenue is king

DraftKings, which unlike FanDuel is still taking action in New York, attracted $18.5 million in entry fees into its contests held on Sunday, down from $18.9 million in Week 12. That marks the seventh straight week of falling GPP entry fees.

But DraftKings managed to reduce its payouts for those games to $16.5 million from $17.01 million the previous week, posting an effective margin of 10.7 percent and a slight uptick in net revenue from its GPPs (from $1.9 million to $2 million).

Meanwhile, FanDuel took in $14.2 million in entry fees across its GPPs, a drop from $14.8 million in Week 12, according to FanDuel’s own preliminary numbers sent to Legal Sports Report.

But like DraftKings, FanDuel managed to increase its effective margin from 10.5 percent to 10.97 percent. FanDuel paid out $12.7 million to post net revenue of $1.56 million, a small increase from 1.55 million in Week 12.

Across all of FanDuel’s NFL games for Sunday, including its non-guaranteed contests (DraftKings does not release that data), FanDuel saw its entry fees drop from $21.9 million in Week 12 to $21.3 million in Week 13. That means that nearly all of its declines in entry fees, some $600,000 in all, can be attributed to its GPPs.

“Does this suggest that New York City has affected (FanDuel’s) casual GPP player base far more than the hardcore grinders?” Copeland asked. “If so, on a long-term revenue basis this is probably the better of the two possibilities.”

A closer look at the DFS numbers

According to the SuperLobby data:

  • FanDuel paid out $19.1 million for net revenue of $2.2 million, across all its games, which is roughly even (a difference of less than $500) from the week before.
  • FanDuel’s cash game figures accounted for 49.5 percent of their total entry fees, up from 32 percent in Week 12.
  • Yahoo, DFS’ distant No. 3 operator, boosted its GPP entry fees slightly to $862,273 from $860,955. But after two straight profitable weeks, Yahoo paid out $909,500 for a loss of $47,227.
  • Among the nine sites SuperLobby covers, there was around $300,000 of overlay offered across all NFL contests, according to SuperLobby.

Another conservative week in advertising

Week 13 made for another relatively quiet week on the airwaves for both FanDuel and DraftKings. For the fourth consecutive Monday morning, neither site appeared in the iSpot.tv top 10 of television advertisers.

This has become par for the course as DraftKings and FanDuel have both ratcheted down their ad spending while legal storms have brewed. The reason for the shift is likely multifaceted — from seasonal explanations, to conserving resources for lobbying and legal efforts, or perhaps to attract a little less attention.

Some interesting advertising revelations were revealed by DraftKings this week in a piece by Boston Globe Magazine’s Neil Swidey.

Aggressive advertising early in the NFL season might have “put a target on our back,” DraftKings CFO Tim Dent admitted to Swidey. In the same story, DraftKings expressed little second guessing of its early-season barrage.

“I don’t have any regrets about the results in terms of delivering new players,” said Matt Kalish, DraftKings CRO and co-founder. “That was great.”

A shift in the headline contests ahead

The two giants in DFS are taking significantly different, albeit both increasingly conservative, approaches to their headliner contests this week.

DraftKings made a dramatic change to its Millionaire Maker contest, dropping the entry fee to $3 with a $2.5 million guarantee. Last week the Millionaire Maker cost $20 to enter and offered a $4 million guarantee.

While DraftKings had been steadily lowering the guarantee of the Millionaire Maker down from $10 million in the contest in the NFL’s opening week, this marks the first time the headliner’s entry fee has dropped. But the winner will still receive $1 million. The lower entry fee appears to be an attempt by DraftKings to drum up interest from casual players.

FanDuel lowered its guarantee as well, whittling the Sunday Million contest down to $1.75 million from $2 million for Week 14. The entry fee will remain the same at $25.

With such an important week on the horizon, including a possible verdict in the New York DFS case, perhaps it is no surprise that both sites would play it conservatively.

“We are led to believe that a decision from the New York State Supreme Court should be forthcoming this week, and with it the short term future of DFS, for better or worse, should at least become a little clearer,” Copeland said.

At least some clarity in New York and beyond appears to be imminent. Until then, it appears that both DraftKings and FanDuel will continue to be affected by states where DFS legality is in question.

DraftKings, FanDuel Experience Drops In Entry Fees In NFL Week 12

The shaky legal landscape and subsequent public relations issues are apparently still affecting the popularity of both FanDuel’s and DraftKings’ daily fantasy football contests.

The good news for FanDuel and DraftKings is that their NFL games remain profitable. But the DFS giants took another step back in NFL Week 12, with entry fees dropping about 7 percent week-over-week at both sites, according to a weekly report released Monday by DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com. That continues a weeks-long trend of slipping entry fees at both sites. Worse yet, both reported slipping effective margins after the gains made in Week 11.

And while it is easy to point to the fight in New York as the cause, it cannot be ignored that DraftKings failed to make gains even as it continued to operate in the Empire State after FanDuel stopped all play there. Some believed that DraftKings would pick up more action in New York, since players couldn’t split their action across the two sites. Though the effect of the New York AG decision cannot be understated, it suggests there could be a bit more at play than just a ban in a single state.

“I think they are being very careful on all fronts,” said RotoCurve’s Michael Rathburn, adding that the sites were intentionally being conservative with their guaranteed prize pools. “Sites are cutting ad buys and tons of other stuff, and then putting money away for legal fees, I’m assuming.

“It’s also consumer confidence. Ever since the legal stuff hit, the casual player looks to have pulled back.”

Sliding backward for DraftKings, FanDuel

Both DraftKings and FanDuel lost ground in nearly every metric of their respective guaranteed prize pools (GPPs), according to the SuperLobby report.

DraftKings took in $18.9 million in entry fees for its GPPs for Sunday’s NFL games, down from $20.4 million in Week 11. The drop is its sixth consecutive week of decreasing GPP entries. DraftKings had shown some resiliency last week with a small, 0.25 percent drop.

Perhaps as concerning is that its effective margin slipped more than a full percentage point, down to 10.03 percent, after a season-best margin of 11.6 percent. In all, DraftKings paid out $17.01 million, down from $17.99 million as net revenue on its GPPs fell to $1.9 million from $2.4 million.

FanDuel’s results were similar. The entry fees for its GPPs dropped to $14.8 million from $15.9 million the week before, according to FanDuel’s own preliminary numbers sent to Legal Sports Report. And its effective margin ticked back to 10.5 percent from 10.9 percent.

Across all its games, including its cash games (non-guaranteed contests), FanDuel brought in $21.9 million. That is down from $23.6 million the week before. FanDuel paid out $19.7 million for net revenue of $2.2 million, down from $2.4 million, and a margin of 10.04 percent (down from 10.3 percent).

A closer look at the DFS numbers

According to the SuperLobby data:

  • DraftKings’ headline Millionaire Maker did recover its $5 million guarantee by $401,000, for an effective margin of 7.4 percent. But that was still down from the $725,000 margin it posted on November 22.
  • FanDuel’s headline $2 million Sunday Million contest also recouped its guarantee, posted a strong effective margin of 13 percent.
  • Both FanDuel and DraftKings comfortably recouped their largest single-entry contests ($115,000 and $100,000, respectively). Each posted a 13 percent effective margin.
  • Unchallenged DFS No. 3 Yahoo posted its second consecutive profitable week, taking in $860,955 in entry fees (down slightly from $861,257) while paying out $838,500.

A permanent shift in DFS advertising?

For the third straight Monday morning, neither FanDuel nor DraftKings appeared in the iSpot.tv top 10 of television advertisers.

This represents a significant shift after both sites blanketed the airwaves with advertising, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all television ad growth in the third quarter, according to industry publication Advertising Age.

With the NFL season beginning its home stretch and continued legal uncertainty, a pull back in advertising was inevitable. Of course, the companies’ advertising is playing a role in the New York hearings, too.

And at least one marketing expert questions whether some of FanDuel’s and DraftKings’ advertisements run afoul of the Federal Trade Commission’s “truth-in-advertising” standards. That sort of environment is bound to take a toll on ad spending. More than that, both seem to be taking a different approach to the aggressive ads seen earlier in the NFL season.

“DraftKings pulled back in a huge way and FanDuel altered its ads,” Rathburn said. “Radio spots now push 50-50s. No money is mentioned and also radio ads are pushing ‘play your friends.’ ”

Lower guarantee at DraftKings

After the margin of the Millionaire Maker fell for Week 12, it seemed likely that DraftKings would lower its $5 million guarantee for its headliner contest. And DraftKings did, announcing a $4 million Millionaire Maker for Week 13, with the top spot once again paying out $1 million.

FanDuel will hold steady in its Sunday Million contest for Week 13 after it dropped its guarantee ahead of Week 12 from $2.5 million to $2 million. The winner’s share will remain $200,000.

The continued shrinking of the headliner contests is officially a trend, with both sites adopting more conservative approaches.

Some had thought that fantasy sports might enjoy a bounce-back week after the Thanksgiving holiday, as has been the case in previous years. But that clearly did not happen. And it might take a positive decision in New York to get daily fantasy sports growing again.

NFL Week 11: FanDuel Entry Fees Drop After New York Exit; DraftKings Holds Steady

The stakes of the legal battle in New York were made a little more clear after the NFL season’s 11th Sunday.

The two major daily fantasy sports giants could have hardly handled the New York Attorney general’s decision to ban DFS nearly two weeks ago any differently. FanDuel stopped accepting daily fantasy sports deposits — and then later stopped all play — from New York. Conversely, DraftKings has continued to operate in New York as it gears up for battle.

The differing strategies began to show up in the numbers Sunday, according to a weekly report released DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com.

FanDuel saw an immediate and significant hit week-over-week to its entry fees for its guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) for NFL Week 11. While DraftKings was able to post a relatively flat week when compared with NFL Week 10.

The good news for the DFS industry is that both sites posted strong effective margins, making it a week of positive revenue for both giants.

“Last Sunday’s NFL figures made for some pretty grim reading,” David Copeland, CEO of SuperLobby, said in his weekly data report. “However, DFS operators appear to have adjusted well to the uncertainty in the market.

A tale of two DFS sites in NFL Week 11

DraftKings managed to attract about $20.4 million in entry fees for its GPPs, about even with NFL Week 10. The tally represents a less than 0.25 percent drop from Week 10. But its net revenue went up because it limited its payouts to $17.99 million, posting a season-best margin of 11.6 percent and generating net revenue of about $2.4 million.

In the first full week since FanDuel stopped taking deposits from New York and stopped taking entry fees as well, the site attracted $15.9 million in fees for its GPP contests, according to FanDuel’s own preliminary numbers sent to Legal Sports Report. That is down from the more than $17 million it took in for NFL Week 10. FanDuel did keep its payouts in line, with an effective margin that held at 10.9 percent.

In total, FanDuel was down to $23.6 million in Week 11 from more than $25 million for Week 10 across all its games, including its cash games (non-guaranteed contests). Its prizes out dropped, too, to $21.2 million from $22.5 million, for an effective margin of 10.3 percent, generating net revenue of about $2.4 million. (Similar numbers for all contests are not made available by DraftKings.)

A closer look at the numbers for DFS

According to the SuperLobby data:

  • One-third of FanDuel’s revenues yesterday came from cash games, a number that has remained relatively consistent throughout the current NFL season.
  • FanDuel and DraftKings each recouped their 30 largest NFL GPPs yesterday.
  • DraftKings’ headliner Millionaire Maker recouped its $5 million guarantee by $725,000, for an effective margin of 12.7 percent. FanDuel’s headliner $2.5 million Sunday Million was also recouped, posting an effective margin of 13 percent.
  • Both FanDuel’s $125,000 single-entry contest and DraftKings’ $100,000 single-entry, the largest of their kind at each site, posted a 13 percent margin.
  • Yahoo remains an unthreatened and distant third place in DFS. For the second time this NFL season Yahoo enjoyed a profitable Sunday, hauling in $861,257 in entry fees against $778,500 in payouts.

Advertising still slow for big two

For the second consecutive week, neither FanDuel nor DraftKings placed in the top 10 of national television advertisers on a Monday morning, according to media tracking site iSpot.tv. That is the only two-week period of the NFL season that has happened.

Samsung Mobile ranked No. 10 on iSpot.tv’s list, with an estimated ad buy of $9.6 million over the week.

The early-season barrage of DFS advertising was a boon for television networks, especially those who air NFL games. And the ratchet down in advertising could have a much more far-reaching effect than just DFS, according to Re/code.

The week ahead for DFS

For the second consecutive week, FanDuel has dropped the guarantee for its Sunday Million headliner contest, this time from $2.5 million to $2 million. The winning share was also lowered to $200,000.

Meanwhile, DraftKings is holding the guarantee of its $5 million Millionaire Maker contest steady for the second straight week. The divergent strategies are likely — at least in part — a product of the companies’ reactions to the ongoing case in New York.

Also, RotoCurve’s Michael Rathburn said that while New York is having an impact on DFS, he added “the weekend before Thanksgiving is always low.”

But Rathburn said that action could pick up this week, as season-long fantasy players give up on their teams and begin to pour money into DFS.

“This upcoming Thanksgiving week is key,” he said. “If volume jumps up, everything is going according to history. If volume drops, that means it’s a serious impact.”

One thing is clear for the time being, though. One attorney general’s action has altered the landscape of daily fantasy sports.

NFL Week 10: The New York Effect On Daily Fantasy Sports? DraftKings, FanDuel Experience Drop

The monumental decision by the New York attorney general last week to issue cease-and-desist orders to daily fantasy sports operators FanDuel and DraftKings was bound to have an effect on the industry.

Indeed, the first NFL Sunday after New York AG Eric Schneiderman issued his orders, every daily fantasy sports operator experienced a drop in guaranteed prize pool entry fees, according to a weekly report released DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com.

“The figures suggest that DFS operators have felt the impact of this most recent bout of uncertainty,” according to SuperLobby.

Just how much is yet to be known, of course. And DraftKings and FanDuel, while presenting a united front against the AG, have taken different approaches to business in New York.

FanDuel announced Friday that effective immediately it would no longer accept deposits from New York, the country’s largest DFS market by some accounts. DraftKings has so far chosen not to pull out of the New York market.

For NFL Week 10, though, the contests still went on in New York at both sites. But the overall numbers could be skewed between DraftKings and FanDuel with their different approaches to the state.

FanDuel, DraftKings lower, but still profitable in NFL Week 10

DraftKings attracted $20.4 million in entry fees across all its guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) for NFL Week 10, down from the $21.1 it took in for NFL Week 9. But DraftKings’ margin was actually up from the previous week because it paid out $18.1 million, an effective margin of 11.5 percent; it paid out $19 million in Week 9. DraftKings generated revenue of $2.3 million on its GPPs.

FanDuel took in just more than $17 million in entry fees for NFL Week 9 in GPPs, posting a positive effective margin of about 11 percent, according to FanDuel’s own preliminary estimates sent to Legal Sports Report. Revenue generated on these contests was about $1.9 million. Two weeks ago, FanDuel raked in $18.3 million in entry fees and paid out $17.1 million for its GPPs.

In total, FanDuel was down significantly across all its games, including its cash games. FanDuel raked in just more than $25 million for Week 10, down from $28.4 million. But its prizes out dropped to $22.5 million from $25.3 million, keeping FanDuel similarly profitable. (Similar numbers for all games were not made available by DraftKings.)

A closer look at NFL Week 10 in DFS

According to the SuperLobby data (does not include information from non-guaranteed contests):

  • For the fourth consecutive Sunday, DraftKings suffered a decrease in total entries. But it still has managed to grow its effective margin from 9.8 percent on Nov. 1 to 11 .5 percent on Nov. 15.
  • Both DFS giants have remained profitable by dropping the amount of prizes paid out, allowing each to sustain a double-digit effective rate.
  • The headliner contests at both sites each managed to recoup their guarantees. FanDuel’s $3 million Sunday Million brought in $3.4 million, while DraftKings’ $5 million Millionaire Maker raked in $5.7 million.
  • Both FanDuel and DraftKings comfortably recouped their largest single-entry contests, each posting a 13 percent effective margin.
  • The GPP entry fees for Yahoo, the No. 3 operator in DFS, dropped from $1 million to $907,000, marking the fifth straight week of declining entry fees for the Internet giant. Yahoo’s headline GPP, the Sunday Baller, overlaid by nearly $80,000.

Advertising down for both DFS sites

It appears that the ban in New York may have had an effect on the advertising strategy of at least FanDuel. For the first time since the beginning of the NFL season, neither FanDuel nor DraftKings placed in the top 10 of national television advertisers on a Monday morning, according to media tracking site iSpot.tv.

Ranked No. 10 was Subway, with $8.2 million in television spending. That means FanDuel dropped its TV ad spend by at least $2.5 million from the previous week. FanDuel did release an entirely new ad campaign, however.

By iSpot.tv estimates, the two DFS giants have spent more than $260 million on television advertising. The two have been taking a divergent advertising strategy, with DraftKings ratcheting down its ad campaign significantly both before and after the New York AG’s decision last week, according to trade publication Advertising Age.

A recent story showed how the two sites have spend on TV this year:

More conservative approaches in DFS?

The decline in the NFL GPP numbers come after a strong burst in action for the NBA’s first week, according to data SuperLobby released last week.

Still, FanDuel is dropping its guarantee for its Sunday Million headliner from $3 million to $2.5 million for Week 11. That contest started the NFL season with a $6 million guarantee.  

DraftKings, though, has elected to hold steady on its $5 million Millionaire Maker contest a week after dropping its guarantee from $6 million.

Overall, both FanDuel and DraftKings appear to be taking a more conservative approach after a whirlwind start to the NFL season. And with an expected drop in interest until Thanksgiving, a looming fight in New York, as well as potential issues in other large states, a conservative strategy appears to be prudent, and does not appear likely to end soon.

NFL Week 9: Revenue Up For DraftKings And FanDuel, But Entry Fees Down Again

The days of seemingly weekly exponential growth is a now distant memory for the giants of daily fantasy sports.

FanDuel and DraftKings once again lost ground in NFL Week 9 in terms of total entry fees in, but were able to blunt the lost ground by reducing their prizes out, creating a mixed picture, according to DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com.

With a constantly evolving regulatory environment, including developments in both Washington state and Massachusetts, uncertainty has been a consistent theme since early October when both sites hit a statistical high. The DFS industry is also in the middle of an annual trough in terms of interest and entries.

For now, it appears FanDuel and DraftKings have found a new normal, and DraftKings lowered the prize pool for its Millionaire Maker for NFL Week 9, a move FanDuel made before Week 8In the end, both posted profitable weeks in their guaranteed prize pool games (GPPs).

“FanDuel, DraftKings, and Yahoo all suffered small dips in total entry fees, but they balanced the books accordingly with reduced prizes out totals,” SuperLobby said in its weekly data release. “This means improved effective margins for the big guns — all three will likely feel satisfied with their NFL Week 9 Sunday results.”

Entries down, revenue up for DFS sites

DraftKings’ take fell on its NFL-only GPPs once again, marking the fourth consecutive week the DFS giant lost ground in the metric. DraftKings took in $21.1 million in entry fees across all its GPPs, down slightly from $21.5 million.

Its net revenue from the GPPs actually increased, though. DraftKings paid out an estimated $19 million, down from $19.6 million the week before. That is more than $2.1 million in net revenue, up a tick from $1.9 million the week before.

A similar pattern emerged at FanDuel, according to SuperLobby, which calculates the data for FanDuel’s NFL GPPs as well as for non-guaranteed contests, called cash games. FanDuel posted $28.3 million in entry fees across all its games, which was down from $28.6 million the week before. It paid out $25.3 million for those games, down from the $26.4 million it paid out for Week 8. That resulted in about $3 million in net revenue across all contests.

Such totals should not be surprising as DFS usually hits a lull after the initial early season burst, said RotoCurve’s Michael Rathburn.

“Interest falls off right now as people focus on season long (fantasy football) and getting ready for the (Thanksgiving) holiday and Black Friday,” Rathburn said.

Though there was no apples to apples comparison in the SuperLobby Week 9 report for GPPs, a pattern had already emerged though the first eight weeks of the season.

A closer look at NFL Week 9 for DFS sites

According to the SuperLobby data (does not include information from non-guaranteed contests):

  • By paying out $19 million, DraftKings’ tallied its lowest Sunday NFL GPP “prizes out” total this year.
  • Both headliner contests recouped their guarantees. DraftKings’ $6 million Millionaire Maker brought in $6.4 million in entry fees. FanDuel’s $3 million Sunday Million hauled in $3.45 million in entry fees.
  • Both FanDuel and DraftKings comfortably recouped their largest single-entry contests, each posting a 13 percent effective margin.
  • Yahoo was close to profitability for its GPPs. The No. 3 DFS operator brought in $1.0002 million and paid out $ 1.005 million.

FanDuel advertising steady

This week brought a significant occasion for FanDuel and DraftKings:

By Monday morning, though, FanDuel had worked its way back into the top 10 of national television advertisers, according to media tracking site iSpot.tv.

FanDuel spent an estimated $10.7 million on television advertising over the past seven days, up slightly from the $10.2 million it spent during NFL Week 8. The week’s campaign put FanDuel at No. 7 among all television advertisers.

DraftKings, the biggest spender early in the NFL season, did not register in the top 10 of national advertisers for a fifth consecutive week.

Is a DFS downtick to be expected?

FanDuel will keep the guarantee of its $3 million Sunday Million headliner level for the coming week after dropping the guarantee by $1 million for Week 8. DraftKings, though, lowered the guarantee of its headliner Millionaire Maker from $6 million to $5 million.

That could mean that the downward pressure will continue. Still, Rathburn said that such a pullback should be expected this time of year, and he suspects that it could continue until Thanksgiving.

But there is reason to be optimistic. DFS observers should expect a “big spike during Thanksgiving week and then have a good run until week 17,” Rathburn said.

“Season-long (fantasy players) jump in pretty heavy once their teams are out of it and also people begin chasing the live finals,” Rathburn said.

Until then, though, DFS could continue to paint a murky picture.

NFL Week 8: More Backtracking For DraftKings, FanDuel

Uncertainty did not go away for fantasy sports operators DraftKings and FanDuel during NFL Week 8.

Instead, the eighth week of the NFL season brought more concerning signs for the giants in the DFS industry, with both sites losing ground in their NFL guaranteed prize pool contests (GPPs), according to DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com.

It was quite a week for the daily fantasy sports industry. News of the planned creation of the Fantasy Sports Control Agency, an industry attempt at self-regulation, hit early in the week. DFS became a topic in the Republican national debate. States like Massachusetts and Illinois pressed forward on altering their legal landscapes for DFS. And FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles himself called for government regulation of daily fantasy sports.

In the end, for the fifth consecutive week both DraftKings and FanDuel posted positive net revenue for their NFL GPPs. But a closer look shows further erosion in the size of their GPPs, compelling FanDuel to lower the guarantee for its headliner Sunday Million contest for NFL Week 9.

“The halcyon days of early/mid-October are a distant memory,” SuperLobby said in its weekly data release. “Three weeks on, and it has been another Sunday of falling NFL GPP entry figures.”

The big picture for DraftKings and FanDuel

The new NBA season apparently did not help the two sites’ NFL GPPs.

For the third consecutive week DraftKings’ take on its GPPs fell. It took in $21.5 million in entry fees, down from $22.7 million the previous week. But it remained in positive territory in revenue generated from entry fees, paying out an estimated $19.6 million, down from $20.1 million the week before. That translates to $1.9mm in revenue this week on NFL GPPs only.

FanDuel dropped to an estimated $18.3 million in entry fees for its NFL GPPs from $19.1 million the week before. FanDuel paid out $17.1 million for its GPPs, up from $15.9 million the week before. That translates to $1.2mm in revenue this week.

In all, FanDuel brought in $28.6 million for all its NFL contests, including GPPs and cash games. And it paid out $26.4 million from those games. Cash game numbers were not available from DraftKings. 

Even with the slide back in GPPs, though, RotoCurve’s Michael Rathburn warns observers to not overreact.

“Let’s also remember how much growth this industry has seen,” Rathburn said. “We have a lot more players and sites compared with a year ago.”

A closer look at what happened in Week 8

According to the SuperLobby data (does not include information from non-guaranteed contests):

  • ­Both DraftKings’ $6 million Millionaire Maker and FanDuel’s $4 million Sunday Million recouped their guarantees. But both brought in less in entry fees and entries than the previous week. DraftKings brought in entry fees of $6.24 million, down from $6.8 million, while FanDuel raked in $4.1 million, down from $4.6. Entries were down by about 30,000 at DraftKings, and 20,000 at FanDuel.
  • With $1.72 million in entry fees against $1.5 million in guarantees, FanDuel comfortably recouped its largest single-­entry NFL contest. ­
  • At $1.15 million in entry fees, DraftKings also comfortably recouped the $1 million guarantee on its largest single-­entry NFL contest.
  • Yahoo, DFS’ No. 3 operator, posted 147,000 NFL GPP entries, its lowest total this season. Its headline Sunday Baller overlaid $120,000 and for Week 9 it once again slashed its guarantee.

FanDuel advertising holds steady

The beginning of the NBA season did not compel the two DFS sites to embark on a significant advertising push it appears. FanDuel remained in the top 10 of national television advertisers over the last seven days, though only barely, according to media tracking site iSpot.tv.

FanDuel spent an estimated $10.2 million on television advertising over the past seven days, which was about even with what it spent during NFL Week 7. That was just enough to keep FanDuel at No. 10 among all television advertisers.

After an early advertising onslaught, DraftKings continues to take the more conservative television advertising approach. For the fourth consecutive week it did not register in the top 10 of national advertisers.

A coming litmus test?

For the second time in three weeks, FanDuel made a move to lower the guarantee of its headliner NFL Sunday Million contest. The NFL Sunday Million for Week 9 was lowered to $3 million, down from $4 million, though the winner’s share will hold at $500,000.

DraftKings, on the other hand, is holding to its headliner strategy. Its Millionaire Maker contest will once again offer a GPP of $6 million and $1 million to the winner.

After both adjusted their strategies ahead of Week 7, this is the first time that the two have diverged during the same week. That will make for an interesting week ahead.

But it might not actually be the NFL that tells the tale of the overall strength of the industry. Rathburn said that the sizeable GPPs offered for the NBA’s first week could provide some insight.

“If they fall way short, then we kinda know where things are,” Rathburn said. “If they fill, it’s all systems go.”

Rathburn also said that he will be looking at whether bigger-money players are withdrawing their bankrolls, indicating that they might be playing less.

And of course, in this climate, there is always a possibility of a legal change week-to-week in the DFS industry. Plenty bears watching this week.

NFL Week 7: Daily Fantasy Sports Sites DraftKings, FanDuel Find Stable Ground

Even with a constant stream of reports and speculation of possible government intervention, the daily fantasy sports giants continue to weather the storm.

However, for the second consecutive week, both DraftKings and FanDuel posted a minor erosion in entry fees for their guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) in NFL Week 7, each setting an October low, according to DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com.

In all, the DFS giants each posted mixed weeks, with total entries up at both sites while total entry fees ticked down slightly.

The drumbeat of regulation continued throughout the week. But unlike the week before when the Nevada gaming commission said that DFS sites require a license to operate, DraftKings and FanDuel operated in the same number of states as the week before. (The sites did, however, move their live finals that had been planned for Nevada and Florida.)

And DFS got some high-profile support over the weekend, including by Dallas Cowboys owner and DraftKings stakeholder Jerry Jones.

After a concerning downtick in Week 6, there is at least a hint that both giants appear to be stabilizing after the data leak earlier this month.

Good news, bad news for FanDuel and DraftKings

DraftKings brought in an estimated $22.7 million in entry fees for its NFL GPPs, which is down slightly from the $22.9 million it brought in for NFL Week 6. This is the second straight week that DraftKings has seen its GPP entry fees decline week over week after posting a record-setting Week 5. DraftKings’ overall NFL entries grew (excluding freerolls), though, from 3.76 million in Week 6 to 4.02 million in Week 7.

FanDuel displayed a similar pattern, though it did see a more significant drop in entry fees than its chief rival. In all, FanDuel raked in an estimated $19.1 million for its NFL GPPs, down from $19.9 million in NFL Week 6. Like DraftKings, FanDuel’s NFL entries grew (excluding freerolls). FanDuel attracted 3.4 million entries on Sunday, up from 3.3 million in Week 6.

Such a decline in entry fees is not overtly concerning, though, said RotoCurve’s Michael Rathburn, adding that it is “a natural dip this time of year.”

“People are calming down a little,” Rathburn added. “But it was scary for a while. It still could be a bumpy road I think.”

A closer look at NFL Week 7 in DFS

According to the SuperLobby data (does not include information from non-guaranteed contests):

  • Net revenue — entry fees compared with prizes paid out — was up at both sites after both dropped the guarantees for their headliner contests by $1 million.
  • DraftKings paid out $20.1 million in prizes, posting net revenue for its NFL GPPs of $2.6 million. That is up from $1.6 million in Week 6.
  • FanDuel, meanwhile, paid out $15.9 million in prizes to post net revenue of $3.2 million. That is up slightly from $3.1 million in NFL Week 6.
  • After a week of overlay, DraftKings $6 million Millionaire Maker brought in $6.8 million. FanDuel’s $4 million Sunday Million raked in $4.6 million.
  • As a result of downsizing their guarantees, it was the lowest number of entries either site took in on their headlining contests: 341,000 at DraftKings, as the event fell just short of filling (down from 354,000 entries the previous week); 184,000 on FanDuel, as the event filled about an hour before close (230,000 the previous week).
  • No smaller site posted a positive week of net revenue in NFL Week 7. Yahoo again led the way, bringing in nearly $1.17 million while paying out $1.22 million.

DFS sites advertising even less?

Television advertising continued to stay relatively low, continuing a weeks-long trend after both sites initially spent massively early in the NFL season. Though FanDuel appears to be pursuing a much more aggressive strategy on TV.

FanDuel was the fourth-largest spender during the last seven days, according to media tracking site iSpot.tv. But FanDuel actually spent about $1 million less than the previous week, and its total airings, 1,550, were down slightly.

DraftKings did not register in the nation’s top 10 spenders for the third consecutive week. No. 10 was Toyota, which spent $7.8 million.

Has the floor been set for FanDuel, DraftKings?

Considering that FanDuel and DraftKings have decided to keep the guarantees for their headliner contests level for NFL Week 8 — $6 million for DraftKings’ Millionaire Maker and $4 million for FanDuel’s Sunday Million — the sites at least to appear to be somewhat confident that the market has settled.

There could even be reason for optimism. With the NBA season set to tip off this week, that could help spur additional interest in daily fantasy sports.

“The NBA will be key, I think,” Rathburn said. “If the NBA does very well, it will be a major factor.”

That may or may not affect entries for NFL Week 8. And with such an unsettled legal landscape, a change in a state law or an attorney general’s opinion could have an effect almost any week. In the meantime, it appears that the stormy DFS seas have calmed, at least for one week.

NFL Week 6: DraftKings, FanDuel Numbers Down After Record Week 5

On the surface, all looked well in the NFL’s sixth week for both DraftKings and FanDuel. After all, for the second consecutive week, both daily fantasy sports giants posted positive revenue on their NFL guaranteed prize pool (GPP) contests, according to DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com.

But in what might be a foreboding sign for the DFS industry, for the first time this season each site took in less in total entry fees than in previous week — at least in their guaranteed contests — and the total number of entries was down.

DraftKings and FanDuel both left Nevada this week on the heels of the gaming commission saying that DFS sites require a license to operate. (An earlier version of this story omitted this information.)

How much of an impact this has is hard to quantify, although clearly it’s a non-zero impact. Nevada’s population is not huge — just under 3 million people — but a player survey this summer conducted by Eilers Research indicated that the popularity of DFS indexes well vs. other states.

DraftKings, FanDuel metrics are down after a big week

DraftKings took in an estimated $22.9 million in entry fees from players for its GPPs, down about 12 percent from the more than $25 million for its guaranteed prize pools in NFL Week 5. The bottom line for the site was down slightly, too; DraftKings had $1.7 million in net revenue generated by GPPs, down from $2.6 million.

FanDuel experienced a smaller, but still significant, drop down to $19.9 in entry fees from $20.6 million the week before. FanDuel’s net revenue on these contests was $3.1 million, down from $3.5 million from the previous week..

In an industry that has experienced almost nothing but growth, such a week stands out. But what does it mean for the long-term outlook for DFS industry? That is a tough question for anyone to answer.

“Honestly, I really am not sure what to think,” said David Copeland, CEO and founder of SuperLobby.

A closer look at Week 6 in DFS

According to the SuperLobby data (does not include information from non-guaranteed contests):

  • DraftKings total GPP entries (excluding freerolls) was down to an estimated 3.76 million from 4.14 million. FanDuel dropped to 3.27 million entries from 3.38 million.
  • GPP entry fees and total entries for Week 6 was the lowest for DraftKings since NFL week 3 on Sept. 27, but FanDuel’s total was ahead of its Week 4 tally.
  • DraftKings’ $7 million Millionaire Maker contest attracted 353,673 entires, down from 395,742 the week before and 376,661 in NFL Week 4.
  • FanDuel’s headliner Sunday Million was level, filling both weeks with more than 229,000 entries.
  • Yahoo was back in the red, paying out $1.3 million against $1.2 million in entry fees, a week after posting its first net positive week.

DFS sites saving money on advertising

It might not seem like it to anyone watching NFL games on TV, but advertising spending was down for both sites over the last seven days.

FanDuel spent $11.2 million across television on nearly 1,600 airings, as of Monday morning, according to media tracking site iSpot.tv. That made it the seventh-largest television advertising spender over the past week. But FanDuel’s spending was still down dramatically from the $16.7 million it spent in Week 5.

For the second week in a row, DraftKings did not register in the nation’s top 10 spenders at iSpot. No. 10 was fast-food chain McDonald’s, which spent $9.6 million.

It appears for the moment that the DFS giants are now both ratcheting down their advertising after blanketing the airwaves in the early part of the NFL season.

Ominous sign for daily fantasy in the week ahead?

Perhaps the best sign that DrafKings and FanDuel think that they could still face downward pressure in NFL Week 7 might be in the headliner contests at both sites. For the first time this year, both sites lowered the prize pools in their top contests.

DraftKings lowered the prize pool for its headline Millionaire Maker from $7 million down to $6 million, but the winner will still grab $1 million. FanDuel dropped the prize pool for its NFL Sunday Million contest to $4 million, down from $5 million. Additionally, FanDuel dropped the winner’s share to $500,000, down from $1 million.

It appears the ongoing controversy surrounding the DFS industry is not going away any time soon. But just like last week’s numbers were likely not indicative of a sustainable upward trend, it’s too early to read this is a downward trend that can’t be reversed.

But from their actions, it is clear that the DFS giants are not banking on bigger numbers this coming week.

NFL Week 5: No Slowing Daily Fantasy Sports? DraftKings, FanDuel Post Big Numbers

A deluge of negative press does not appear to have slowed down the daily fantasy sports industry. In fact, both DraftKings and FanDuel were up in the NFL season’s fifth week, both posting their best weeks of the season and a second consecutive profitable week, according to DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com.

DraftKings continues to lead the way in volume of money coming in to the site. DraftKings took in an estimated $25 million in entry fees (up from $23.9 million in Week 4) for its guaranteed prize pools and paying out $22.4mm (up from $2mm). Meanwhile, FanDuel took in $20.6 million in entry fees (up from $19. 7 million) and paid out $17.1 million (down from $17.9 million) while far outspending DraftKings on television.

In terms of straight revenue, however, FanDuel did better in GPPs according to SuperLobby. FanDuel generated $3.5mm on its GPPs, while DraftKings generated $2.6mm.

After a week in which the daily fantasy sports industry was shaken with a bombardment of negative news following the data leak controversy, this has to come as a relief to the DFS giants.

“I was tracking the fill rates throughout the weekend and it became clear quite early on Saturday that this was going to be a good weekend for the sites,” said David Copeland, CEO and founder of SuperLobby. “It seems that people have been given a lot of information and chosen to play – a very positive sign for the likely lifetime player values I would guess.”

A closer look at Week 5

According to the SuperLobby data (does not include information from non-guaranteed contests.):

  • Both operators hit a new high-water mark for NFL GPP entries. DraftKings received 4.14 million entries. Meanwhile, FanDuel’s received 3.38 million. Last Sunday the figures were 3.75 million and 3.18 million, respectively.
  • DraftKings and FanDuel both did well their top contests. DraftKings $7 million Millionaire Maker received about  396,000 entries (up from 377,000) and was just a few thousand short of filling. FanDuel’s $5 million top contest received roughly 231,000 entries.  FanDuel had lowered its guarantee from $6mm the week before.
  • Yahoo became the first of the smaller sites to post a profitable week, receiving more than 192,000 entries. Yahoo dropped the guarantee of its headliner contest from $1 million to $750,000 for Week 5

Advertising going in different directions

It appears that the DFS giants are chasing far different advertising strategies, right now.

For the first time since the NFL began, DraftKings fell outside the top 10 television advertisers, according to media tracking site iSpot.tv. DraftKings had been tapering its TV ad buys, spending $9.6 million in the seven days prior to Monday, Oct. 5. This week, Nissan holds the No. 10 spot with $10.2 million in ad buys.

Meanwhile, FanDuel actually increased its spending from Week 4 of the NFL. For the seven days prior to Monday, FanDuel dropped an estimated $16.7 million with 2,867 airings, ranking No. 2 among all television advertisers. That is up from $14.1 million a week ago.

In essence, the two giants have gone in opposite directions after DraftKings went on the offensive with big advertising spending in the NFL’s opening week.

What’s up next for FanDuel and DraftKings?

DraftKings and FanDuel will be consistent with their headliner contests in Week 6. DraftKings will once again offer a $7 million Millionaire Maker contest, with a $1.2 million payout to the winner. FanDuel’s $5 million contest, which awards $1 million to the winner, is also on par with the previous week.

But if there’s another week of negative mainstream press, will DraftKings and FanDuel continue their upward trends? 

“The real key is the number of new depositors from here on out,” said RotoCurve’s Michael Rathburn. “Will the negativity scare off new players?”

There’s a chance that the old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity is in play.

After the past week, it seems clear that reversing the momentum of DFS will be no easy task.

NFL Week 4: DraftKings Vs. FanDuel Remains Close Battle In DFS

The daily fantasy sports battle of DraftKings vs. FanDuel is tightening up.

DraftKings and FanDuel both posted profitable figures for their guaranteed contests during Week 4 of the NFL season, according to DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com. And the gap between the two operators is not very wide — at least in term of visible data from guaranteed prize pools.

The top-line data

DraftKings appeared to just edge its rival in revenue from GPPs this week. According to the SuperLobby data (does not include information from non-guaranteed contests.):

  • DraftKings took in an estimated $23.9 million in entry fees and paid out just under $22 million across its guaranteed prize pools. 
  • DraftKings’ headline $7 million Millionaire Maker contest fared well, receiving $7.5 million in entry fees and 375,000 entries. Those figures came two weeks after DraftKings decided to lower its guarantee on that contest from $10 million.
  • FanDuel brought in $19.7 million while paying out about $18 million.
  • FanDuel’s Sunday Million featured some overlay, bringing in $5.8 million and 231,000 entries; FanDuel had upped its guarantee in this contest from $5 million the week before.

DraftKings also topped FanDuel with 3.75 million entries compared with FanDuel’s 3.18 million across their guaranteed prize pool contests.

For the upcoming week, DraftKings will again have $7 million at stake in its top contest, while FanDuel dropped its guarantee back down to $5 million.

Reining in commercial spending

All this comes as combined spending by both FanDuel and DraftKings appears to be down over the last seven days, as of Monday morning.

DraftKings’ ad spending is down significantly, standing at $9.6 million with nearly 800 fewer national airings than FanDuel (2,186 vs. 2,982), according to media tracking site iSpot.tv. Overall, DraftKings’ weekly spending has been cut by more than half from its NFL Week 1 onslaught. On Monday, DraftKings fell out of the top 10 in national spending for the first time since August.

FanDuel remained in the top 10 across all advertisers for DFS, spending an estimated $14.1 million. That is still down slightly from last week, when FanDuel became the No. 1 weekly spender in the U.S.

Overall, it appears that DraftKings is in the midst of a process to taper down its television advertising spending, with a likelihood that FanDuel follows suit as the NFL season moves forward.

“(DraftKings CEO Jason) Robbins hinted that Week 1 NFL is like Christmas, so you spend a ton upfront to get people in at the most opportune time,” said RotoCurve’s Michael Rathburn. “The interesting part is that FanDuel increased theirs (since the NFL’s first week), but I think that was because they were so far behind.

“You push the envelope the first few weeks in NFL to see how far the reach is, yes, they will now scale back and settle in at true numbers. No need for overlay right now.”

Giant gap between the “Big Two” and everybody else

It is no surprise that DraftKings and FanDuel combine to offer the largest guaranteed prize pools. But the separation can be striking.

The two DFS giants combined to offer the vast majority of the largest guaranteed prize pools on Sunday. The only other site to crack the top 45 contests, in terms of guarantees, was Yahoo, which had to offer $240,000 of overlay for its $1 million contest. Yahoo scaled back its guarantee to $750,000 this week.

Yahoo does appear to be establishing itself as a solid No. 3, though, with 188,000 entries that produced $1.3 million in fees. Yahoo isn’t turning a profit on its guaranteed prize pools, but it appears that no operators other than DraftKings or FanDuel are, either.

“The biggest takeaway for me is what is going on with the race for No. 3,” Rathburn said. “Yahoo has monster numbers and hasn’t even turned on the juice yet, in my opinion.”

NFL Week 3:  DraftKings, FanDuel Both Fill Giant Contests In Daily Fantasy Sports

Both FanDuel and DraftKings filled their top fantasy football contests for the first time this year during Week 3 of the NFL season.

Positive developments for both DFS sites

After a couple of weeks in which the two biggest DFS sites had to pay out overlay from their guaranteed contests, both came much closer to hitting their marks in Week 3.

Final data from Sunday via DFS analytics site SuperLobby was not available this week, but it appeared that both sites had their best week in the young NFL season. It took till the final minutes before the biggest contests locked, but they both sold out: $7 million guaranteed at DraftKings (400,000 entries) and $5 million at FanDuel (230,000 entries).

Seeing as the multi-million dollar contests were the biggest sources of overlay at the two sites in recent weeks, this was a great development for both. For comparison’s sake, here is how things broke down in the first two weeks:

  • Week 1: FanDuel paid out about $1.4 million in overlay across all contests, while DraftKings had about half a million, according to the website SuperLobby.com; that disparity came even though DraftKings guaranteed far more money than its main rival.
  • Week 2: DraftKings had to add $1.53 million to its guaranteed prize pools; FanDuel, by contrast, had only $107,000 in overlay.

So, who is No. 1 now?

What this means in terms of which site is No. 1 in the DFS industry, at least for football, is a little tricky.

Clearly, FanDuel has gotten some momentum after a difficult Week 1. It has upped its guarantee for its top contest from $5mm to $6mm, and its second biggest is now $2mm.

DraftKings, after a poor showing for its Millionaire Maker last week, was forced to lower its guarantee from $10 million to $7 million. That decision resulted in a sell-out, although this week’s Milly Maker generated fewer entries than the previous week (Week 2’s $10mm had about 425,000 entries). DraftKings’ second biggest contest guarantees $1.5mm.

All that boils down to the fact that across the biggest two guarantees at each site, just half a million dollars separates them.

Tracking non-guaranteed NFL contests at both sites is more difficult than tracking the guaranteed ones. But according to estimates in the latest report from Eilers Research on the DFS industry (paywall), FanDuel narrowly trailed DraftKings in revenue in the first two weeks of the season, including in entry fees generated by cash games (non-guaranteed contests). The Eilers data gives DraftKings the nod as the No. 1 operator.

Other sports at FanDuel, DraftKings

DraftKings, of course, is still offering a variety of contests that FanDuel does not. While both offer college football and MLB contests, DraftKings also has golf, mixed martial arts, soccer and NASCAR fantasy. So even if the two sites could be considered even in terms of football, DraftKings has several avenues for revenue that FanDuel does not.

Both sites are in the process of adding fantasy eSports, as well — DraftKings via its own platform and FanDuel through its acquisition of AlphaDraft.

According to SuperLobby‘s data, both sites posted profitable days on Saturday with their non-NFL offerings.

And finally, the Site Standings (TM)

DraftKings has held down the top spot in our DFS Site Standings ever since it launched this summer. The standings take into account a variety of metrics across all DFS operators, and they mesh with the recent data from Eilers that give DraftKings the edge over FanDuel in terms of market share, for this snapshot in time.

DraftKings Vs. FanDuel Commercial Wars Tapering Off, Or More Of The Same?

Daily fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel continue to combine to spend roughly $30 million a week on television commercials. Is that a pace they are likely to keep up, or will we finally start seeing fewer ads in Week 3 of the NFL season?

$30 million a week?

Over the past seven days, DraftKings has spent an estimated $16.5 million, while FanDuel has spent $13.8 million, according to the media tracking site iSpot.tv.

Here is where DraftKings and FanDuel stand, according to iSpot, as of Thursday morning:

DFS commercials

Based on data LSR has compiled from the subscription-based site, DraftKings has spent more than an estimated $130 million on commercials in 2015, including nearly $25 million in a single week at one point. The amount FanDuel for the year has spent is unknown, although data collected since FanDuel has started appearing in iSpot’s top 10 spenders puts the site past $30 million spent this month.

Will FanDuel and DraftKings continue spending at this rate?

Week 3 seems like an unlikely spot for either site to let off the gas pedal on the advertising front. FanDuel built up some momentum from Week 1 to Week 2 of the NFL season; after experiencing a significant amount of overlay the first week, the site did much better on all its guaranteed contests last week. It’s at least possible FanDuel pulls back on commercials this week, but it’s likely not satisfied with the gains it made last week.

Meanwhile, DraftKings missed its mark in the $10 million Millionaire Maker, and had to overlay $1.5 million across all its guarantees. This week, it dropped the guarantee of its top contest to $7 million. It seems highly unlikely that DraftKings dials back its advertising efforts in the wake of a disappointing Week 2.

Neither site is profitable, yet, so their war chests for TV spending are not unlimited, despite massive rounds of funding that both completed this summer; and TV is far from the only expense for either site. So, the ads can’t go on at this pace forever, at least in theory.

We got a sense for FanDuel’s future advertising plans, in a story at Mashable:

As the season goes on, FanDuel says it will taper off its advertising slightly and roll out new spots so that TV viewers don’t get sick of watching the same commercials. DraftKings would not comment on any future advertising plans.

FanDuel has been airing different versions of its commercials, although it has not rolled out entirely new campaigns, like DraftKings has. FanDuel’s ads still fall into one of two categories — an actor telling us all about the product (like this) or player testimonials (like this).

Are you really seeing that many ads, or does it just feel like you are?

After the ad onslaught of NFL Week 1, people were loudly complaining about the number of ads from DraftKings and FanDuel on social media. At least during NFL game broadcasts this past week, it seemed like things were ratcheted down a bit, according to a survey of ads shown by Awful Announcing. 

There were still a lot of commercials — including many during the major pregame shows. AA also made this observation: “Sunday NFL Insiders was basically a DraftKings infomercial disguised as a pregame show.”

When you include FanDuel and DraftKings mentions in those shows, and with mentions as networks come back from commercial breaks, the two DFS sites’ presence on TV is still pervasive.

Will it be pervasive again in Week 3? Until we see evidence to the contrary, it is difficult to predict a different outcome.

NFL Week 2: Did FanDuel Or DraftKings Win NFL Week 2 In The Daily Fantasy Sports Wars?

FanDuel improved a great deal from week one to week two of the NFL season, while DraftKings was forced to pay out more than $1.5 million in overlay for Sunday’s daily fantasy football contests, accord to DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com.

The breakdown of the numbers from Week 2

SuperLobby, which tracks contests at most of the major daily fantasy sports sites, provided a report based on Week 2 of the NFL season.

Here are some of the key takeaways, from the data provided by SuperLobby. All data is for NFL guaranteed contests, only:

  • As noted above, DraftKings had to add $1.53 million to its guaranteed prize pools — about 73 percent of the overlay paid by all operators. Most of that was paid out in its $10 million Millionaire Maker.
  • FanDuel, by contrast, had only $107,000 in overlay, after paying out overlay of more than $800K in Week 1.
  • DraftKings had 2.8 million entries and generated $20.3mm in entries, while handing out $20.6mm in prizes.
  • FanDuel had 2.2 million entries, generating $16mm in entries while paying out $13.9mm in prizes.
  • Yahoo again paid out more than $200K in overlay.

Here is the overlay for the sites that SuperLobby tracks:

  • DraftKings: $1.53 million
  • Yahoo: $224,000
  • Fantasy Aces: $116,000
  • FanDuel: $107,000
  • DraftPot: $80,000
  • StarsDraft: $41,000
  • Fantasy Feud: $40,000

It’s important to note these figures do not include so-called “cash game” — or non-guaranteed contests — just the data from the sites’ guaranteed prize pools.

DraftKings remains atop our Site Standings, as it as since the start of the NFL season.

What’s next for FanDuel and DraftKings?

At a basic level, and one that we could all see, FanDuel came close to hitting its mark on guarantees, while DraftKings did not. A week after featuring no overlay for the Millionaire Maker, DraftKings didn’t come very close to filling its marquee contest.

DraftKings is already scaling back for Week 3, going with a $7 million contest — $1.2 million for first. FanDuel, meanwhile, is sticking more or less with the formula it used in the first two weeks, featuring a top contest of $5 million. That means the final gap between the two sites in guarantees will be much closer than it was in Weeks 1 and 2.

The user problem?

One of the major issues for both sites remains user acquisition. While both sites are clearly attracting new users, both probably hoped to be selling out their biggest contests.

FanDuel got close, with more than 215K entries (max 230K). DraftKings had more than 425K entries (572K max). Neither of those figures represents unique users, since contests allow multi-entries.

Both sites are spending massive amounts of money on customer acquisition (more on that below), and according to figures from DraftKings to the Wall Street Journal, the site now has more than 4.5 million users.

If that’s true, however, the quality of the users DraftKings is attracting is at issue. Even if all of the entries in the Millionaire Maker were unique — and they aren’t — that means less than 10 percent of DraftKings user played in its marquee event.

We don’t know how many users FanDuel has — although in Q4 of 2014, it claimed a million paid actives. Using that as a baseline — and assuming a sizeable growth in its user base since then — FanDuel is also not attracting a high percentage of its users to its biggest contest, either.

The DFS commercial wars continue, too

The advertisements for both sites were again pervasive during NFL broadcasts, and DraftKings sits in the No. 2 spot in terms of money spent among all television advertisers over the last seven days, according to iSpot.tv, with FanDuel checking in at No. 4.

After nearly doubling the ad spend of FanDuel in the first week, DraftKings appeared to be closer in line with its rival. DraftKings’ ad spend for week 2 ratcheted down slightly to an estimated $17.7 million, while FanDuel upped its buy to an estimated $14.6 million. As of Monday morning (figures are for past seven days):

DFS TV spend

DraftKings has lowered its ad spend since the run-up to NFL season and during Week 1, when it spent nearly $25 million over the course of a week. FanDuel, meanwhile, has been ramping up its ad spend in recent weeks.

Those numbers also underscore the issue for the top DFS sites that customer acquisition remains expensive. Will the more than $30 million spent by the two sites over the past week result in sold out contests in Week 3 of the NFL season? DraftKings and FanDuel are certainly hoping so.

NFL Week 1: DraftKings Kicks Off NFL Week 1 As Daily Fantasy Sports Winner

After Week 1 of the NFL season, DraftKings truly staked its claim as the top daily fantasy sports site.

FanDuel paid out about $1.4 million in overlay, while DraftKings had about half a million, according to the website SuperLobby.com; that disparity came even though DraftKings guaranteed far more money than its main rival.

In addition to that data, DraftKings continues to hold down the top spot in Legal Sports Report’s Site Standings, a position it has held for many weeks leading up to the NFL season.

By the numbers: The overlay

When considered as a percentage of the total guarantees at each site, it becomes even clearer how well DraftKings did.

According to Super Lobby’s data, DraftKings guaranteed about $21.3 million, while FanDuel guaranteed about $13.7 million this weekend.

DraftKings had approximately $550,000 in overlay. FanDuel, meanwhile, had $1.4 million in overlay, according to Super Lobby, including nearly $800,000 for its $5 million contest.

Those figures do not include “cash games,” which do not feature guaranteed prize pools.

The caveat to the revenue generated

While DraftKings clearly generated more revenue in Week 1, and had to pay out far less money in overlay, its estimated ad spend far outpaced FanDuel. Even so, both sites’ commercials were nearly ubiquitous across NFL programming on Sunday.

The difference between the sites in TV commercial spending has regularly sat at about a two-to-margin, according to the tracking site iSpot.tv — an estimated $20 million last week by DraftKings, and $10 million by FanDuel. DraftKings’ ramped-up marketing spend has also been going on for a longer period than FanDuel, which really started making a big push on TV this past week.

So while DraftKings is winning in customer acquisition and gross revenue, FanDuel has been more conservative in marketing expenditures (at least on the television front, which is the most costly and publicly visible metric available). DraftKings has spent aggressively in the weeks leading up to the season, hoping to attract customers at a higher volume.

We also don’t know some of the periphery data to the entries and fees generated. For instance, DraftKings was giving out tickets to its Millionaire Maker for referrals, and $3 tickets for new signups. How many? Clearly it was a lot, but we aren’t going to know how many.

Those TV ads are working, so far

While some have complained via social media about how many ads there are for DraftKings and FanDuel, the ad blitz appears to be working. Internet search interest for both sites is up a lot. Here is the Google Trends chart for the U.S. over the past 30 days:

A look ahead at Week 2

Both sites are going with similar gameplans for Week 2, it appears. Both are running the same top-level contests — $10 million guaranteed at DraftKings, and $5 million at FanDuel.

This time around, however, there will not be a run up of weeks, like there was for Week 1; both sites launched their biggest contests in August. They have less than a week to try to fill their contests for this week.

Week 2 will likely be a better indicator of where the two sites sit relative to one another, as we get into the weekly pattern associated with football season. And a key variable will be the amount dedicated to TV spend of both sites, and how well it continues to drive customers to their platforms.

Photo by NFL News Desk Admin used under license CC BY-ND 2.0

Correction: An earlier version of this article originally said that DraftKings’ $10 million contest sold out. This was not the case.

August 2015

The race between FanDuel and DraftKings for No. 1 in the daily fantasy sports industry is as close as it has ever been with about month left until the NFL season begins.

From spring to summer, any change?

In June, Legal Sports Report’s Chris Grove took a look at the question of who is No. 1 in the DFS industry. The answer, by a number of a different metrics — at least for that snapshot in time — was DraftKings.

Many of the same things working in DraftKings’ favor then are still in play:

  • FanDuel offers only Major League Baseball contests, while DraftKings adds golf, NASCAR and mixed martial arts as revenue streams. Fantasy golf, in particular, provides a lot of revenue; even on weeks without a major championship, DraftKings is approaching or surpassing a million dollars in guarantees. The MMA/UFC vertical is also growing.
  • In the Major League Baseball DFS market, DraftKings continues to benefit from its partnership with MLB. Just last week, DraftKings announced official deals with 27 MLB teams.
  • DraftKings pulled ahead of FanDuel in search interest, according to Google Trends, and has maintained that position.

Despite all that momentum, Eilers Research’s Adam Krejcik, who tracks the DFS space, believes FanDuel is still the biggest operator, in the grand scheme of things. From a recent story at CBS MoneyWatch:

“DraftKings argues that they have closed the gap considerably and are even ahead of FanDuel if you use the most recent monthly or quarterly data. That being said, I still think FanDuel is the largest … DraftKings has said they will pay out over $1 billion. The rest of the market will pay out at most $100 million in prize money.”

Who is giving away more prizes in 2015?

The question of prize money is a good barometer, and this has been a dichotomy that has largely gone under the radar in recent weeks.

DraftKings, in the wake of its $300 million round of funding, reiterated that it would award “well over $1 billion in prizes” this year.

FanDuel has constantly revised its prize estimate upwards, saying after its $275mm round of funding that it expected to award “about $2 billion” in prizes this year.

Are the semantics here worth noting? Could the terminology employed by both sites mean they are separated by only a hundreds or even tens, of millions in contest prizes? If that is true, the revenue currently taken in by each could be very similar by the close of 2015.

The valuation question

Both companies are now valued at north of a billion dollars, and there is very little separating them in this metric.

A Wall Street Journal story pegged FanDuel’s valuation at $1.275 billion. Estimates of DraftKings’ valuation put it past $1.2 billion, as well.

Both companies are theoretically flush with cash after closing their rounds last month.

Those ad deals by DraftKings

DraftKings has committed what is reportedly half a billion dollars in ad and marketing spend at ESPN’s and Fox Sports’ platforms in coming years. That spend could be a double-edged sword.

That money spent could translate into huge numbers in customer acquisition for DraftKings. At the same time, that’s simply a lot of money to spend on advertising.

We’re certainly not privy to all the expenditures at either company, but it appears FanDuel is being much more cautious — at least right now — in spending on marketing, and is instead focusing on its infrastructure.

Will either strategy pay off in a big way in the quest to dominate the DFS market? Only time will tell.

The NFL contests

As Grove wrote in June, the NFL season will determine who is really on top. Everything leading up to the four months of NFL is small potatoes, by comparison, in the DFS industry, as the lion’s share of revenue generated will come from September through December.

We got a sample of the dynamic already, as both sites have launched their week 1 contests.

FanDuel went first, guaranteeing more than $6 million over its first three contests. The amount guaranteed has grown over $8 million as contests have been added.

DraftKings responded by going even bigger, announcing on Friday that it would be running a $10 million guaranteed contest. The total amount of money guaranteed in all of DK’s NFL contests currently eclipses $12 million.

Guarantees are only that; they don’t tell us how many people will actually be playing at either site. But obviously DraftKings is banking on more money coming in to its coffers for Week 1 than FanDuel, or it is willing to pay out some overlay in a bid to attract to new customers.

The early data on entries in the sites’ biggest contests gives us a little bit of insight.

FanDuel’s $5mm contest ($25 buy-in) has just nearly 6,000 entries after two weeks of appearing in the lobby. The DraftKings $10mm contest ($20 buy-in) is already past 7,000 entries after just a few days.

Of course, DraftKings needs more than twice the number of entries than FanDuel to fill its biggest contest.

And the answer is…?

Again, with the caveat that this is just a snapshot in time, there’s plenty of reason to believe that DraftKings is No. 1, currently. We’ll certainly get a better idea of where the sites stand after week 1 of the NFL season is complete.

But who will be No. 1 when the smoke clears after the NFL season? We might not know until the final snap is taken.

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Zack Hall
- Zack Hall has been covering sports and business for more than 16 years as both a reporter and editor. He has won numerous awards with stops that include the Reno Gazette-Journal and the Bend Bulletin.