Daily Fantasy Sports Site Gains Access To Top Pro Football Players
Legal Sports Report

Report: DraftKings Inks Deal With NFL Players Association

NFL players draftkings

The NFL Players Association and DraftKings have announced a deal that will allow the daily fantasy sports site to use current pro football players for marketing purposes.

What we know about the deal

Few details about the deal with NFL Players Inc., which takes care of marketing for the NFLPA, were given in an initial Forbes report, and a press release soon after the report added little new information. From the release:

The NFLPA licensing partnership will provide DraftKings the right to employ active NFL players for in-product and promotional campaigns across broadcast, print, social media, digital and mobile properties, as well as via experiential, memorabilia and content activations.

The cost, terms and length of the deal were not released. It’s also not known how many players the deal gives DraftKings access to, nor how often they can appear. The release noted that the NFLPA has six new licensees this year.

More from DraftKings VP of Business Development Jeremy Elbaum, via the release:

“The NFL season is one of the important times of the year for DraftKings and the DFS industry, so to be able to feature NFL players as part of our marketing efforts adds a level of excitement and connectivity to the game that is a huge win for us and our community. The NFLPA represents some of the most celebrated athletes in the world and we’re looking forward to collaborating with them throughout the season.”

And NFL Players Inc. President Ahmad Nassar:

“We’re excited that more and more players are going to benefit from the rising growth of fantasy sports and are especially excited to partner with DraftKings, a leader that has helped fuel the growth of Daily Fantasy Sports. DraftKings and NFL players share an important trait as both have intense, dedicated fan bases. By featuring more NFL players in marketing endeavors, DraftKings will offer a new level of authenticity to the daily fantasy experience.”

DFS sites signing players isn’t new

This is not the first time a professional player — or a player from the NFL — has been signed by a DFS site. DraftKings already had an active deal with New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Some DFS sites — such as FantasyDraft and Daily MVP — have also had deals with NFL players. The former has had arrangements with active NFL quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Andy Dalton. The latter had an agreement with the NFLPA and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

The deal would apparently benefit DraftKings in that it will give the company access to a wide range of players without needing to commit to a deal with a single player.

New ad campaign?

The obvious takeaway is that DraftKings will be able to roll out a new marketing campaign with the deal. DraftKings has spent more than an estimated $140 million on TV commercials this year, according to data from iSpot.tv.

Using actual players in its commercials will give DraftKings a new way to promote its product to potential customers and engage with NFL fans.

FanDuel recently became the biggest spender on TV commercials on a trailing seven-day basis.

No NFL deal at league level

The NFL continues to be the only major North American sports league without a partnership at the league level, as the NBA (FanDuel), NHL (DraftKings) and Major League Baseball (DraftKings) all have an “official daily fantasy sports partner.”

The deal means there are dwindling marketing possibilities for DFS sites via the professional football league. So far, 28 of the league’s 32 teams have deals in place with either DraftKings (12 teams) or FanDuel (16 teams). FanDuel sponsors a small section of NFL.com related to fantasy sports.

Despite all this, the NFL has continued to downplay its relationship with DFS. With the NFLPA doing a deal with DraftKings, the relationship between pro football and DFS gets a little closer.

Photo by Andy McLemore used under license CC BY-SA 2.0

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Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.