As Yahoo officially entered the daily fantasy sports realm this week, the sports and types of contests it might offer later remains an open-ended question.
The traditional DFS contests
Here’s what we do know about Yahoo’s DFS offering, right off the bat.
Yahoo will be offering salary cap-based DFS contests for the four major North American professional sports: NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA. All four sports are accounted for in the current DFS lobby, and there are rules already posted for all four types of contests. And the following was written in the introductory post at Yahoo regarding its daily offering:
“The plan for daily fantasy is exactly the same. Our hope is to become your preferred home for DFS across the four major sports.”
So, clearly Yahoo is at least going with those sports. Whether or not college football or college basketball is in the cards is unknown.
So, at core, Yahoo is at least following the FanDuel model: Sticking with the major sports that most sites offer. What are the chances it goes the DraftKings route, and offers sports outside of the major team sports?
The not-so-traditional contests
DraftKings (and some other DFS platforms), go beyond the four major team sports in the U.S. How likely is Yahoo to join the fray in any of these sports?
- Soccer: Yahoo recently canceled its seasonlong fantasy soccer products for the 2015-2016 campaign. While Yahoo said it intends to bring fantasy soccer back at some point, it seems unlikely that it is making its return with daily contests in the immediate future.
- Golf: Yahoo already offers free-to-play contests that amount to DFS contests, based on single tournaments. Obviously, it would be pretty easy for Yahoo to flip the switch and turn these into real-money contests. At the same time, FanDuel could easily have launched DFS golf by now, and hasn’t. Why? We’re not sure. It could just be strategy of focusing on the core sports, or it could be concerns of its legality under the UIGEA.
- NASCAR: This is pretty much the same case as golf. Yahoo already offers free, single-race contests. Turning these into play-for-cash contests would be easy, but it’s something FanDuel has not done and DraftKings has. FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles is on the record saying his company likely will not be getting into fantasy NASCAR.
- Mixed martial arts: Yahoo currently doesn’t offer a fantasy product for MMA and the UFC, so this appears to be a no, for now.
Yahoo and alternative DFS?
When Yahoo launched its DFS product, some people expected something entirely out-of-the-box. That didn’t happen, as all we’ve seen so far is traditional salary-cap contests in the works, and a product that looks much like FanDuel.
Does that mean that’s all we’re going to see from Yahoo? Not necessarily. What Yahoo has done this week, for MLB DFS, essentially appears to be a soft launch. With the amount of developer talent Yahoo has in-house, it has the ability and skill to do something more, down the road.
It would not be a shock to see Yahoo embrace some sort of alternative form of DFS, and roll out something entirely different in football season (in addition to salary-cap contests), or in 2016.
For now, though it looks like Yahoo is closer to the FanDuel model than the DraftKings model.