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DraftKings is getting into the season-long fantasy sports business. Kind of.
The idea: Allow DraftKings users to get a group of people together to create and play private DFS contests exclusive to the invitees. DraftKings Leagues has a leaderboard function, so you can see how you fare against other players over time.
While you could create private contests with friends or other DraftKings users previously, that functionality was a one-off with no carry-over.
“We’ve heard a lot of customer feedback, really since we started DraftKings, saying ‘It’s a really cool product, I love daily fantasy, I love what you offer, but it’s really hard to play with friends,’ ” COO and co-founder Paul Liberman told Legal Sports Report. “It took some time to think about how we were going to build it, what does it need. ”
Despite sharing some commonalities with seasonlong fantasy, Liberman says the Leagues product is not meant to compete with its forerunner, but to be complementary to DraftKings’ over-arching product.
“The goal was to create almost a private version of DraftKings, for you and your friends and your colleagues,” Liberman said. “And to make it easier to smack talk amongst a small group.”
The Leagues functionality feels a lot like DFS’ seasonlong cousin, giving the league “commissioner” and its players a great deal of freedom in how it works:
You can watch a video here that breaks down Leagues.
“Leagues” is a far more social iteration of DFS that has not always been the focus of the industry in its run-up over the past several years, as bigger and bigger prize pools were often emphasized.
But between DraftKings Leagues and FanDuel’s plan to roll out an offering called “Friends mode” that will also go live before NFL season, 2016 looks to be much different. (DraftKings also announced the creation of a “Game Integrity Unit” last week)
“It’s a starting point as both a product and as a technology, for us to continue building on those strong social roots [in fantasy sports], as we see daily fantasy sports continue to evolve,” Liberman said.
Obviously, Leagues is not designed to move the needle immediately in terms of revenue for DraftKings. But it is the continuation of an industry pivot that some might argue is overdue: Emphasizing the social nature of fantasy sports that allowed the seasonlong industry to grow organically.
DraftKings will see how successful it can be in porting that concept to the DFS product during the upcoming NFL season.