DraftKings has agreed to a three-year deal with the NFL to partner with its International Series in the United Kingdom, a move that further links the league to daily fantasy sports.
Details of the deal
DraftKings made the announcement via a press release on Friday morning. In the short term, the deal covers the three games that take place in Wembley Stadium in London this year:
- New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins on Sunday, October 4
- Buffalo Bills vs. Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, October 25
- Detroit Lions vs. Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, November 1
The deal makes a a lot of sense, as DraftKings has received its UK gaming license and plans to go live this month. It’s not clear if this means DraftKings’ UK license will be active for the first game on Sunday; the company’s UK domain remains inactive. DraftKings is also in the process of opening a London office.
What does the deal give DraftKings the opportunity to do? From the press release:
DraftKings will host events outside of Wembley Stadium prior to all three games, with additional events at Trafalgar Square on Saturday, October 3 and on Regent Street on Saturday, October 24. At these events, fans can take part in a series of American football skills challenges to win merchandise, prizes and money-can’t-buy experiences. DraftKings advertising will also appear during the broadcast of NFL games on Sky Sports TV in the United Kingdom.
And more from DraftKings CEO Jason Robins:
“Our partnership with the NFL’s International Series provides the ideal platform in which to introduce fans to DraftKings in the UK as we expand beyond the United States,” said DraftKings Chief Executive Officer Jason Robins. “As the league looks to introduce more sports fans to American football, we will look to showcase what we believe is the world’s best DFS product to British fans through the support of our new partner.”
NFL + DFS = ?
The NFL has downplayed its ties to daily fantasy, despite that fact that it gets more and more involved with the industry with each passing day. Some of the recent examples:
- 28 of the league’s 32 teams are partnered with either DraftKings or FanDuel.
- FanDuel sponsors a regular segment at NFL.com.
- DraftKings just signed a deal with the NFL Players Association’s marketing arm that allows it to use active players in advertisements.
About the only thing the NFL and a DFS site have not done is sign an overarching partnership, like the ones that exist with the NBA (FanDuel), NHL (DraftKings) and Major League Baseball (DraftKings).
The NFL continues to say publicly that daily fantasy is a game of skill, trying to appear not hypocritical vis a vis its negative stance on sports betting. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a recently unsealed deposition that the league views fantasy and sports betting as different things.
Also of note: More international expansion
The press release noted DraftKings’ desire for further international expansion — that much is not news, as Robins has talked about those designs before. But the release did note that DraftKings hopes to secure more gaming licenses by next year:
DraftKings expects to be operational in the UK in the fourth quarter, with launches in additional markets, including Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America, planned for 2016.
Which markets DraftKings has its sights set on, specifically, are unknown. Currently, FanDuel and DraftKings only operate in 45 states and Canada.