Are FanDuel And DraftKings Television Partnerships All Locked In After Summer Flurry?

Posted on August 12, 2015

All of the major American media sports platforms appear to have daily fantasy sports dance partners, after the events of a busy summer in the DFS industry.

However, the extent of the relationships between ESPN, Fox, CBS and NBC with DraftKings and FanDuel isn’t always entirely known. And the impact of these relationships might be revealed once NFL season begins.

The ones we know for sure: ESPN and Fox

The two media platforms we know the most about in terms of their DFS plans are ESPN and Fox:

  • ESPN parent company Disney decided not to invest in DraftKings, but ESPN and DK did do a deal that made them “exclusive partners.”
  • Fox Sports led a $300 million round of funding last month for DraftKings. And with that came another major media deal, where DK reportedly committed to $250mm in ad spend. That deal, however, is not exclusive.

What all that means is that DraftKings has strong relationships with two of the platforms heavily into sports — and NFL football (Fox with Sunday games, ESPN with Monday Night Football). FanDuel will be shut out of ESPN eventually.

While the Fox deal allows for FanDuel and other DFS operators to advertise on Fox platforms, it’s hard to believe anyone would make a major investment in a platform that will likely be dominated by DraftKings.

So where does that leave us on other major sports media networks?

FanDuel and the NBC relationship

NBC Sports Ventures is a continuing investor in FanDuel, and that was on display in its recent $275mm round of funding.

Unlike Fox and ESPN, there has been no public or reported announcement of any type of major deal between FanDuel and the NBC sports platforms.

As a major investor in FanDuel however, it seems counterintuitive that NBC would allow DraftKings to have a major presence on its platforms (NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com, etc.). And with the amount of money DraftKings is spending on other platforms, it’s unclear how much ad spend it would commit at NBC, anyway.

Interesting notes on the NBC/DFS relationship:

  • Golf Channel is part of the NBC family, but FanDuel does not offer daily fantasy golf like DraftKings does.
  • NBC and the English Premier League just signed a new six-year deal. Again, DraftKings offers soccer — and EPL contests — while FanDuel does not.
  • Comcast Ventures is also a FanDuel investor, and the Comcast SportsNet collection of regional networks also falls under the Comcast/NBC umbrella.

CBS, FanDuel and SportsLine

The final piece of the puzzle in terms of sports media content in the U.S. is CBS. But this is perhaps the most difficult property to analyze with available information.

CBS recently launched its own DFS product via SportsLine.com. At the same time, you can still find plenty of references and promotion of FanDuel via CBS, which still have a marketing deal, according to New York Business Journal.

CBS has taken a contrarian approach in DFS already, offering rake-free contests at launch. Will it continue to do so by offering its own DFS contests and still promoting and taking money from DFS operators? Or is this just a holdover from an existing deal with FanDuel?

DFS and NFL on TV

The four platforms listed above account for all the NFL games shown in the U.S. (with the exception of one game that Yahoo will live stream.)

With both DraftKings and FanDuel flush with cash following their latest rounds of funding, it’s fair to assume we’re going to see a lot of commercials and DFS promotion across the major sports TV platforms moving forward. After all, the lion’s share of revenue in the DFS industry will be generated over the final four months of the year, and customer acquisition during the final third of 2015 will be key.

While we know we’re likely to see DraftKings heavily on both ESPN and Fox, what we’re going to see on the other two platforms — and what FanDuel’s advertising plans are and how they can or will leverage their NBC and CBS relationships — remain a bit more up in the air.

To find out the answers to those questions, we may have to just watch the commercial breaks during this fall’s NFL games.

Photo by Algorhythm Labs used under license CC BY-ND 2.0.

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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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