Yahoo’s DFS Launch Reveals How Mainstream Media Views Daily Fantasy Sports

Written By Dustin Gouker on July 14, 2015 - Last Updated on April 29, 2022
Yahoo Daily Fantasy Sports Story at WSJ

[toc]Yahoo’s introduction of a daily fantasy sports product brought with it plenty of media attention. Some outlets called DFS gambling or betting, while others toed the industry line and called it a chance to “win cash prizes.” 

Below we compiled a listing of unique stories regarding Yahoo’s entrance into the daily fantasy sports market.

From Wednesday through Saturday of last week, more than 150 stories could be found on the subject of Yahoo’s launch. Here is a breakdown of the “gambling” and “betting” references in the stories.

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Pretty much no one portrayed daily fantasy sports as illegal gambling, although many outlets touched on its legal status.

How the reference was used is not taken into consideration, nor are the results for the two search terms mutually exclusive. A search for “gambling” would return references to DFS’ status under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

This is not an exhaustive list of every story written on Yahoo and DFS; it’s a survey of top-level results returned for a search for “Yahoo and fantasy. We did not include every instance of syndicated or wire stories that showed up across multiple media platforms (i.e. the Associated Press).

Stories where DFS is explicitly characterized as betting or gambling

  • The New York Times. The Times was perhaps the outlet that made the connection between DFS and gambling the most. From the story: “But on Wednesday, Yahoo took the boldest step yet to bring what amounts to legalized betting on sports to the mainstream.” Much of the start of the story is about DFS’ resemblance to a betting activity.
  • Wall Street Journal. The story didn’t focus on it being gambling. But it was referenced. The lede: “Yahoo Inc. is looking to supplement its stagnant advertising business with a new foray into legal online gambling.” (A short story at Time was based on the WSJ report and used the same language.)
  • Los Angeles Times. The headline: “Yahoo introduces betting to its fantasy sports.” There were other references as well, including “Yahoo’s foray into sports betting…”
  • BuzzFeed. “Today, it unveiled a a new, cash-powered version of fantasy sports that the company’s leadership hopes will take advantage of that massive audience to compete with established players like DraftKings and FanDuel, and take this form of online sports gambling mainstream.”
  • Engadget. It was hard to miss this reference. The headline: “Yahoo wants you to gamble on fantasy sports.”

Most of these stories ranked highest on the search, and were likely the most read by casual readers.

‘Soft’ references linking DFS to gambling or betting

These are stories where a reference to DFS as betting or gambling is made, but it felt more like a reference in passing than a major point of contention.

  • USA Today. “Yahoo’s new fantasy-sports app will give fans a platform to wager money against their friends as well as in bigger online tournaments.”
  • “Yahoo has updated its fantasy sports mobile app to include the ability to bet real money on daily and weekly games.”
  • C|NET. “The Internet giant on Wednesday announced it will host daily and weekly fantasy sports games where users can place real bets.”
  • Mashable. “Yahoo formally stepping into the daily fantasy space will go a long way toward legitimizing a niche that, until recently, has been viewed as a fringe area of fantasy sports more akin to legal sports betting than conventional fantasy leagues.”
  • Re/Code: “Essentially, it’s a way to make side bets throughout the season against your friends.” (We would point out that this passage isn’t really right, as generally you can’t import your season-long team directly into Yahoo’s daily format, for a variety of reasons.)

No overt references to DFS as a gambling activity

The stories that managed to avoid direct references to calling DFS a type of betting, gambling or wagering were common. Some of the stories were short and picked up on only information provided by Yahoo, while others were lengthy and still referred to DFS as a way to “win cash prizes.”

While these stories might have addressed the status of DFS under state or federal law, the industry was not directly referenced as a way to gamble.

  • The Associated Press (as seen at The Washington Post). The AP did very little with the Yahoo news, surprisingly. It was a short story picked up by several media outlets. “The product lets users draft players and creating fantasy teams on a daily basis. Users win cash prizes based on how these teams fare.” It’s interesting that the Washington Post, which has done some of its own original reporting on the industry, simply went with the AP story.
  • Bloomberg. “Players can create fantasy baseball, basketball, football and hockey teams and compete for cash prizes in daily and weeklong contests, the company said on Wednesday.”
  • VentureBeat. “Instead expect short daily battles for bragging rights … and cash prizes.”
  • Business Insider. “Yahoo has come up with a new strategy that could help revive the struggling Internet company’s fortunes: give users the chance to win cash.”
  • SFGate: “Yahoo on Wednesday launched daily fantasy sports games, allowing its tens of millions of fantasy sports fans the chance to win cash in daily contests.”
  • San Jose Mercury News. “Hoping to amp up an American addiction to fantasy sports that already drives legions of sports fans to its websites and mobile apps, Yahoo on Wednesday introduced a more intense, daily form of the virtual sport that allows competitors to compete with real money.” The MN also did a more in-depth follow-up story with this reference: “The excitement stems from the amount of money being played every day, which many feel makes daily fantasy sports the closest thing to sports gambling available online legally in the United States.”
  • International Business Times. “Yahoo jumped into the increasingly competitive fantasy sports market Wednesday by formally announcing Yahoo Sports Daily Fantasy, a new service that will allow players to compete for cash prizes in daily and weekly contests.”
  • Quartz. “The company today launched a daily fantasy sports league that will let fans in the US compete for cash prizes each day.”

Why does it matter what people call DFS?

Until this week, there have rarely been news stories where daily fantasy sports has gotten as much attention in one day as Yahoo’s launch attracted.

The media coverage represents how journalists currently view the industry. And that’s important because they frame the debate for the rest of the country: the American public, politicians, regulators, and attorneys working for jurisdictions around the country.

The latter three may start taking a closer look at the legal status of DFS, and whether the industry needs to be regulated. That already happened, in a story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Sunday, which is bringing with it possible scrutiny in Nevada.

The media outlets listed below are presented with the obvious caveat that some are more important than others, with varying levels of readership and impact on shaping opinion.

A survey of DFS players released on Tuesday also revealed that just under half of players view it as a form of gambling.

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.

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