The history of daily fantasy sports is almost synonymous with commercials.
They’re back, of course — DraftKings revealed some of theirs this week. But it will be nowhere near the onslaught we saw two years ago.
DraftKings, FanDuel and the history of DFS commercials
Anyone who paid attention to the NFL back in 2015 probably saw more than one ad from DraftKings and FanDuel. That’s when the two DFS sites flooded sports television with the commercials, vaulting both at different points in time to the No. 1 spot for spend on TV among all advertisers.
The two companies were flush with cash after completing nine-figure funding rounds, and they went into the NFL season ready to spend a lot of it. The height might have been when one DraftKings commercial was playing roughly every 90 seconds.
That rate is not likely to repeated again by a DFS company.
DraftKings commercials are here
DraftKings recently started airing some of its commercials ahead of daily fantasy football season, along with its branding of “The Game Inside The Game.” (We have not yet seen FanDuel’s.)
Three are light-hearted spots using a doctor to “diagnose” people with fantasy sports ailments that DraftKings can cure:
“It’s designed to be a little more light-hearted, a little fun, this is fantasy sports, we are not splitting the atom here,” DraftKings SVP of Brand and Creative Don Lane told media at an event last week, before the campaign launched.
“(Fantasy) should be the most fun part of the sports fans’ week. And what the campaign is designed to do is also educate people about what makes our games special, but do it with a little lighter touch.”
One of the above ads also notes the “Billion Dollar Lineup” promotion rolled out by DraftKings this week, as does this, another more serious ad:
“The ads bring the brand positioning to live, it’s designed to educate people,” Lane said. “It’s bringing fans close to the game by putting them on the field.
“It’s designed to inspire people to want to play the game inside the game, it’s really cool and inherently flexible for all the messaging we want to do.”
More on the campaigns here from Media Post.
DFS is about fun, and the money
The DFS messaging from two years ago was about how much money you could win playing. All those commercials ended up bringing a lot of attention to the industry, both good and bad.
The emphasis on huge amounts of money up for grabs — and the sheer number of ads — was already toned down last year.
Now, DraftKings and FanDuel will to strike a balance. The above commercials’ messaging attempts to emphasize the game, while also noting that you can win a lot of money doing it.
Certainly, the promotion where you could win a billion dollars for free is meant to attract people in search of life-changing money won via DFS. But one of the above ads makes no mention of money, noting only that you can “play for free.”
While DFS can be fun, it’s not (currently) a viable business model unless there is a lot of money being spent by users on entry fees. And generating those entry fees still requires the lure of large cash prizes. Commercials from DFS’ “big two” aren’t going to totally deemphasize the money that is on the line.