DraftKings and FanDuel are supposed to be merging later this year. But sometimes that has been difficult to tell in recent months, as the two daily fantasy sports operators continue to roll out changes to their platforms.
The latest evidence in a string of developments is FanDuel adding “late swap” functionality for some of its contests ahead of the Major League Baseball season.
FanDuel ‘late swap’ and what it is
Late swap is a feature that DraftKings has had for quite a long time, for almost all of its contests. (The DFS operator took it away for NBA contests, however).
FanDuel will be offering it for MLB and soccer contests, a company spokesperson told Legal Sports Report. The functionality will be available for “most slates.” FanDuel is also looking at adding late swap for other sports.
What does ‘late swap” do? In contests that have games with multiple start times, it allows DFS users to change the players in their lineups for the games that start later.
Here’s an example of how it works in practice:
An MLB contest could start at 7 p.m. Eastern, when a majority of baseball games usually have their first pitch. But MLB games covered by the DFS contest could also start at 8, 9 and 10 p.m. “Late swap” allows users to change any players in those later games after the contests began at 7 p.m., but before the actual MLB games begin. This would allow users to swap out players that are late scratches in a starting lineup.
Other changes at FanDuel just announced
FanDuel also revealed some other changes “as part of continued efforts to enhance the user experience” during MLB season. More from the FanDuel announcement:
- FanDuel Mixup: An innovation on FanDuel’s traditional game format, Mixup offers users a fun, new challenge each week with a variety of different contests based on rotating themes and games types. Mixup will be available for MLB contests later this spring.
- Changes to MLB scoring: In MLB contests, pitcher scoring has been changed in response to user feedback. Pitchers will now be awarded six points for a win (down from the previous twelve points), and four points for quality starts, a new scoring category.
- Friends Mode for MLB contests: Bringing the best of season-long baseball to the daily format, Friends Mode for MLB contests will be available on mobile and desktop beginning today. On Friends Mode, users can join a league at any time throughout the season and enter contests on a week-to-week basis, choosing the weeks they want to participate. Later this spring, FanDuel will be making Friends Mode even more flexible, allowing commissioners to change the league’s contest schedule throughout the season.
DraftKings and FanDuel still operate independently
The move by FanDuel is just the latest example that the two sites are still in competition before a merger goes through, which is planned for Q3. There is still the matter of federal authorities examining anti-trust concerns related to the tie-up.
But we’re constantly reminded that’s not a done deal, yet:
- DraftKings closed its own funding round earlier this month.
- FanDuel launched golf contests, even as DraftKings started its own golf marketing push.
- DraftKings entered the German market.
Priming the pump for the merger?
We still know precious little about what’s in store for the merger, what the new company will look like or how it will function. But there is an argument that the two companies are priming the pump for when they do merge.
We can surmise that the two companies won’t act entirely separately, as one of the reasons for the merge is to reduce costs and increase liquidity. While the two sites do have a large overlap in users, there are some users who simply use or prefer just one of them.
FanDuel adding late-swap can be a move that makes sense in a vacuum, as a new feature for its users. It can also be looked at as a way to introduce FanDuel users to something they will see when the merger takes place (just like golf contests.)
Whether that’s a conscious decision aimed at the merger isn’t known. But getting FanDuel users ready for the new post-merger world is a plausible scenario.