DraftKings is getting into the season-long fantasy sports business. Kind of.
The daily fantasy sports operator announced a new feature for its users called “Leagues” that went live on Tuesday, as daily fantasy football gears up in September.
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.
The idea behind Leagues
“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.”
Inside DraftKings’ new feature
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:
- Leagues are not necessarily for single sports, although they can be. You can play and track any of the various sports DraftKings offers in the same league.
- Contests are fully customizable, and can be free or paid entry. The user experience within Leagues is similar to the existing DraftKings lobby, as far as creating and entering contests.
- Anyone within the league can choose to compete in an individual contest or not. Contests are available to enter for anyone who is in the league.
- Recurring contest mode allows a league to run the same contest week after week, without having to set it up again.
- Players can be invited to a DraftKings league via text, e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.
You can watch a video here that breaks down Leagues.
The social DFS game
“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.