Why And How FanDuel Is Creating A New Fantasy Sports Product For Its UK Launch In August

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FanDuel entering UK betting market

FanDuel plans to launch a new variant of its daily fantasy sports product in the UK this summer, according to a recent interview with CEO Nigel Eccles.

What FanDuel is doing in the UK

FanDuel will go live in the UK in August, according to a report at Venture Beat.

FanDuel is still in the process of procuring its “pool betting” license in the UK. (Earlier, the DFS site got a license for “gambling software.”)

Beyond the planned launch this summer — which would coincide with the start of the English Premier League fixture — Eccles intimated FanDuel will look very different across the pond.

“We could’ve taken a very simple approach and taken our U.S. product, a very mature product with eight years of development, and just flip it onto the U.K. and run it in U.S. dollars,” said Eccles. “But the consumer feedback was very clear — they didn’t want a U.S. product. They really wanted a product in their currency, in their language, and which was clearly native to the U.K.”

You can read the entire interview here.

What will the FanDuel product look like, exactly?

That’s not clear, but it seems it will be very different from what is currently deployed in the U.S. and Canada. The VB report called the UK launch a “year-long effort.”

What can we guess, divulge and learn from the interview?

Diverging from DraftKings, and why be different?

DraftKings launched its UK product — largely a port of the North American-facing site — in February. FanDuel is obviously taking a different approach. Why might that be a good idea?

Legal Sports Report has no direct insight into the amount of paid entries coming to DraftKings from the UK in its first few months of operation.

However, it seems clear it is not currently creating a groundswell of revenue in a jurisdiction that already has a well-established sports betting market. There are a few UK-facing DFS sites — albeit it with fewer resources than FanDuel and DraftKings — that haven’t made much of a dent in the market.

And while the UK is familiar with the concept of fantasy sports, it’s not the cultural phenomenon it is in the US. Iterating the product, instead of just directly porting with a UK-facing domain, could make a lot of sense.

And creating a game with less skill — or more like gambling — would make it more accessible to the average UK fan or punter. (In the U.S., DFS sites base their legality on the amount of skill involved in the contests, something they are not beholden to with a gambling license in the UK.)

Another underlying issue: Trying to introduce daily fantasy to a wider audience in the UK. It seems unlikely DraftKings or FanDuel will be spending to market their products to the UK that in any way approaches what they did last year in the US.

Things heating up in UK, otherwise

The effort to exploit the UK market for DFS appears to be underway in earnest, no matter what.

Another licensed UK DFS operator, PlayON, recently signed a deal with the European Tour in golf. On the heels of that, DraftKings just rolled out contests based on the European Tour, as well, with $175,000 guaranteed across three contests this week.

Does this mean daily fantasy sports growth is on the way in the UK in 2016, with both major operators in the market and increasing interest from sports organizations and teams? Yes, but to what degree remains to be seen.