An Eye On DFS: CBS Launches Its Own Daily Fantasy Sports Product

Written By Dustin Gouker on August 3, 2015

Another heavyweight has joined the ranks of the DFS operators: CBS.

CBS launched its long-rumored SportsLine daily fantasy sports product on Monday, bringing another company with substantial resources to the industry.

A slightly different approach to DFS

Two things about CBS SportsLine stick out at launch.

The first is the rake-free games. CBS’ DFS Director Grant Gurtin confirmed this is likely to remain the case for the near future (likely until NFL, although running rake-free through NFL could seriously upend the DFS industry):

The second is the pairing of a DFS lobby with a premium informational product. That product is SportsLine Pro, which promises “an edge in Daily Fantasy with access to the latest projected stats and player value ratings to help you win whether you play on FanDuel, Draft Kings, or another site.”

We expect the FanDuel and DraftKings references will be removed (or at least demoted) before too long.

CBS attempting to bridge season-long, daily fantasy

Along with Yahoo and ESPN, CBS is one of the leaders in the season-long fantasy category.

Yahoo launched its own product last month, while ESPN chose a partnership with DraftKings instead of trying to create its own DFS platform.

That left CBS, which already had a robust suite of season-long fantasy offerings over most major sports.

Until Monday, CBS had an advertising relationship with FanDuel, and CBS had links to FanDuel’s lobby along with its other fantasy products.

But there had been hints that CBS could be angling to enter the DFS market:

The CBS DFS edge

Like Yahoo, CBS boasts some advantages that start-up DFS sites can’t match:

  • Easy access to season-long players: With a big user base already using its other fantasy products online, CBS can try to recruit existing players to its DFS platform. Of course, that is not as easy as turning on the switch, as Yahoo has learned in its first month of operation.
  • The NFL: CBS, along with Fox, broadcasts Sunday daytime NFL games. CBS can pretty easily advertise its DFS product to viewers at little cost (during pre-game, in-game promotions). At the same time, though, it could lose revenue if it takes up positions that could be paid for by advertisers, i.e. commercials.
  • TV and other platforms: CBS broadcasts a variety of sporting events and sports content. It also has a sports website (the aforementioned, a cable network (CBSSN) and a radio network. That’s a lot of avenues for CBS to attempt customer acquisition.

Can CBS compete at the upper echelon?

As Yahoo has demonstrated, just launching a DFS site when you are a major company doesn’t translate into instant success, although it is already in the conversation for the No. 3 operator. While Yahoo has gotten tens of thousands of users to try its product, it’s a long way from coming even close to competing with industry leaders FanDuel and DraftKings.

Like Yahoo, one would expect 2015 will be CBS getting itself established before trying to make a bigger push in 2016.

How successful CBS is might depend on how much it can differentiate its DFS platform from FanDuel and DraftKings. Yahoo basically launched “FanDuel light,” to mixed reviews.

In the end, though, CBS has football. And the majority of revenue from DFS comes from the final four months of the year, when NFL season is active. If CBS can leverage its football presence into DFS users, it could do well quickly.

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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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