FanDuel Narrowing Gap In Terms Of Guarantees Between DFS Sites
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NFL Week 3: DraftKings, FanDuel Both Fill Giant Contests In Daily Fantasy Sports

NFL Week 3 DFS
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Both FanDuel and DraftKings filled their top fantasy football contests for the first time this year during Week 3 of the NFL season.

Positive developments for both DFS sites

After a couple of weeks in which the two biggest DFS sites had to pay out overlay from their guaranteed contests, both came much closer to hitting their marks in Week 3.

Final data from Sunday via DFS analytics site SuperLobby was not available this week, but it appeared that both sites had their best week in the young NFL season. It took till the final minutes before the biggest contests locked, but they both sold out: $7 million guaranteed at DraftKings (400,000 entries) and $5 million at FanDuel (230,000 entries).

Seeing as the multi-million dollar contests were the biggest sources of overlay at the two sites in recent weeks, this was a great development for both. For comparison’s sake, here is how things broke down in the first two weeks:

  • Week 1: FanDuel paid out about $1.4 million in overlay across all contests, while DraftKings had about half a million, according to the website SuperLobby.com; that disparity came even though DraftKings guaranteed far more money than its main rival.
  • Week 2: DraftKings had to add $1.53 million to its guaranteed prize pools; FanDuel, by contrast, had only $107,000 in overlay.

So, who is No. 1 now?

What this means in terms of which site is No. 1 in the DFS industry, at least for football, is a little tricky.

Clearly, FanDuel has gotten some momentum after a difficult Week 1. It has upped its guarantee for its top contest from $5mm to $6mm, and its second biggest is now $2mm.

DraftKings, after a poor showing for its Millionaire Maker last week, was forced to lower its guarantee from $10 million to $7 million. That decision resulted in a sell-out, although this week’s Milly Maker generated fewer entries than the previous week (Week 2’s $10mm had about 425,000 entries). DraftKings’ second biggest contest guarantees $1.5mm.

All that boils down to the fact that across the biggest two guarantees at each site, just half a million dollars separates them.

Tracking non-guaranteed NFL contests at both sites is more difficult than tracking the guaranteed ones. But according to estimates in the latest report from Eilers Research on the DFS industry (paywall), FanDuel narrowly trailed DraftKings in revenue in the first two weeks of the season, including in entry fees generated by cash games (non-guaranteed contests). The Eilers data gives DraftKings the nod as the No. 1 operator.

Other sports at FanDuel, DraftKings

DraftKings, of course, is still offering a variety of contests that FanDuel does not. While both offer college football and MLB contests, DraftKings also has golf, mixed martial arts, soccer and NASCAR fantasy. So even if the two sites could be considered even in terms of football, DraftKings has several avenues for revenue that FanDuel does not.

Both sites are in the process of adding fantasy eSports, as well — DraftKings via its own platform and FanDuel through its acquisition of AlphaDraft.

According to SuperLobby‘s data, both sites posted profitable days on Saturday with their non-NFL offerings.

And finally, the Site Standings (TM)

DraftKings has held down the top spot in our DFS Site Standings ever since it launched this summer. The standings take into account a variety of metrics across all DFS operators, and they mesh with the recent data from Eilers that give DraftKings the edge over FanDuel in terms of market share, for this snapshot in time.

Still a massive amount of commercial spending

Despite gains in filling contests and generating revenue, those gains are coming with huge expenses.

FanDuel and DraftKings have combined to spend roughly $30 million a week on TV ads, according to iSpot.tv. This weekend, FanDuel ascended to the top spot among all advertisers in the U.S., spending about $17 million this past week.

If and when the TV commercials start slowing down, will DraftKings and FanDuel have retained the new users they have gained with the recent ad blitz? If they don’t, that will be a worrisome sign.

Of course, it’s also possible we’ll continue to see a spending war deep into the NFL season.

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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