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

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Yahoo Daily Fantasy Sports Story at WSJ

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

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.

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.

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.