DraftKings’ MMA Growth On Display At UFC 190: Rousey Vs. Correia

Posted on August 1, 2015

DraftKings is set to sell out a UFC daily fantasy contest with a guaranteed prize pool of $100,000, demonstrating the growth in its mixed martial arts product this year.

$100,000 for MMA, again

DraftKings ran one other contest with a prize pool of six figures based on MMA, back in January. That contest had a buy-in of $200.

Saturday’s MMA contest — based on UFC 190, headlined by the title fight between Ronda Rousey and Bethe Correia — also guarantees $100,000, but this time around the entry fee is just $3. The contest features a maximum of 38,300 entries, and it appears to be on track to fill well before the first fight on the card takes place.

DraftKings even added a second contest at the three-dollar price point based on the popularity of its main contest, with another $20,000 guaranteed in that one. More than $200,000 will be guaranteed across all DraftKings’ MMA contests.

Growth for MMA

DraftKings’ DFS for MMA hasn’t experienced explosive growth, but it is clear that DraftKings has grown the vertical over the first half of the year, after rolling out its product in January.

While those launch contests featured big prize pools and high interest, the contests got smaller immediately after that, before starting to grow over the rest of 2015.

A strong summer of UFC events has likely also raised interest in DFS. For instance, last week’s UFC on FOX 16 hit a peak viewership of 3.8 million viewers. UFC 189, a pay-per-view event, appears to have surpassed 1 million buys.

Many of the biggest sites in DFS — including FanDuel — have stayed out of the MMA vertical. That has mostly left it in the hands of DraftKings, Kountermove (a DFS site focused on combat sports), and Draft Ops (which has its sights set on a larger piece of the DFS pie.)

UFC and Fox partnerships

A lot of that growth can be attributed to the UFC’s partnership with DraftKings, which has obviously created more exposure to the DraftKings platform with MMA fans. In addition to promotion on UFC’s media platforms, DraftKings is visible on just about every televised card as one of the sponsors appearing in the Octagon.

And the exposure for DraftKings and MMA is only going to increase. This week, DraftKings received a $300 million round of funding, led by Fox Sports. As part of that deal, DraftKings will also reportedly commit to $250 million in ad spend on Fox properties over the coming years.

That means we’re only likely to see more promotion of DraftKings’ MMA product on TV and in coordination with UFC events, as Fox is the UFC’s broadcast partner, when the UFC cards are not on PPV.

While we may not see the sort of exponential growth for MMA DFS as we have seen for golf this year, clearly it’s a vertical that hasn’t reached its peak.

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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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