Exclusive: Poker Streaming Phenom Jason Somerville Signs Partnership Deal With DraftKings

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DraftKings signs Somerville

LSR can confirm that streaming phenom Jason Somerville has signed a partnership deal with DraftKings.

Full terms of the deal were not disclosed. Somerville will continue to represent PokerStars.

The news comes only weeks after Somerville inked a two-year partnership with Twitch.

Highlights of the partnership

The deal will see Somerville promote DraftKings across Run It Up (RIU), the overarching brand for Somerville’s universe of programming, live events, and community of fans  – including Somerville’s vertical-leading Twitch channel.

The power of that channel was proven last spring. During a 78-day run of live streaming online poker play, Somerville captured over 3m unique viewers (more than 1m from the U.S.) who watched over 200m minutes of content.

Interestingly, the promotional activity will flow both ways.

DraftKings will be hosting several online satellite events for American and Canadian players to a RIU live poker event scheduled for this October at the Peppermill Casino in Reno.

PokerStars will be hosting similar satellites for the international market.

Somerville expects some 500 RIU fans to make the trip to Reno for what he promises will be a “fun, unique poker experience.”

Where DFS and RIU meet

Somerville told LSR that he was originally “very resistant” to the idea of integrating daily fantasy sports into his stream.

“I just didn’t think it would be authentic,” Somerville said, largely due to his own lack of organic involvement with DFS.

It turns out that UFC was the bridge between RIU and DFS.

J Carver StreamSomerville is a long-time, vocal UFC enthusiast who has regularly integrated the sport into the RIU universe.

Once DraftKings struck up a partnership with UFC started offering UFC events in the spring, adding fantasy sports to RIU became a far more natural fit.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do this without UFC,” Somerville stressed. As a huge fan who talks about “firing on UFC quite a bit” in typical streams, it will require few, if any, tweaks for Somerville to integrate UFC fantasy betting into RIU.

Significant potential upside for DraftKings

As a recent convert to DFS, Somerville may be the best ambassador possible for DraftKings as DFS sites look to broaden their reach beyond hardcore users.

Somerville noted that he didn’t even have a DraftKings account until a few months ago. Many of his viewers are likely in a similar position.

Somerville said he’s “really not sure” how many RIU viewers will be experiencing DFS for the first time through the DraftKings partnership.

“My guess is a pretty decent amount,” he added, especially given that Twitch viewers “aren’t really sports fans” relative to the general population.

Given that Somerville’s last streaming run attracted 1.4m American visitors, even a small slice of his audience would represent a windfall for DraftKings.

Whatever the number, Somerville is confident that viewers will find the transition to DFS a smooth one, especially if they share Somerville’s familiarity with online poker.

“I was taken aback at the ease” of getting into action at DraftKings, Somerville said, noting that he was able to “create an account, deposit and fire in my first contest in two and a half minutes.”

That first bet? “On UFC, of course.”

The challenge of moving the Twitch needle with DFS

Somerville singlehandedly sparked the online poker on Twitch revolution. DraftKings is no doubt hoping he can do the same for DFS.

While Twitch (acquired by Amazon last year for a billion dollars) has taken off in popularity for eSports and poker, it has not really caught on in the DFS community, so far. Pros have not taken to the platform to stream, and most DFS podcasts are hosted via other platforms.

FanDuel launched a daily DFS show in the spring that has generated 250,000 views and 1,000 followers – modest numbers by Twitch standards.

DraftKings does have designs on the interaction that a platform like Twitch provides, however, and that becomes more obvious with the Somerville signing. DK co-founder Paul Liberman had this to say in an interview in May:

“It’s similar to the Twitch model. People are watching other people play fantasy sports. They like to observe how people pick their teams. There’s a lot of emotion to people winning that’s fun to watch.”

To increase the dynamic that Liberman is talking about, DFS players have to start making the leap to Twitch.

Somerville might be the right person to get things started.