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NFL Week 4: DraftKings Vs. FanDuel Remains Close Battle In DFS

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The daily fantasy sports battle of DraftKings vs. FanDuel is tightening up.

DraftKings and FanDuel both posted profitable figures for their guaranteed contests during Week 4 of the NFL season, according to DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com. And the gap between the two operators is not very wide — at least in term of visible data from guaranteed prize pools.

The top-line data

DraftKings appeared to just edge its rival in revenue from GPPs this week. According to the SuperLobby data (does not include information from non-guaranteed contests.):

  • DraftKings took in an estimated $23.9 million in entry fees and paid out just under $22 million across its guaranteed prize pools. 
  • DraftKings’ headline $7 million Millionaire Maker contest fared well, receiving $7.5 million in entry fees and 375,000 entries. Those figures came two weeks after DraftKings decided to lower its guarantee on that contest from $10 million.
  • FanDuel brought in $19.7 million while paying out about $18 million.
  • FanDuel’s Sunday Million featured some overlay, bringing in $5.8 million and 231,000 entries; FanDuel had upped its guarantee in this contest from $5 million the week before.

DraftKings also topped FanDuel with 3.75 million entries compared with FanDuel’s 3.18 million across their guaranteed prize pool contests.

For the upcoming week, DraftKings will again have $7 million at stake in its top contest, while FanDuel dropped its guarantee back down to $5 million.

Reining in commercial spending

All this comes as combined spending by both FanDuel and DraftKings appears to be down over the last seven days, as of Monday morning.

DraftKings’ ad spending is down significantly, standing at $9.6 million with nearly 800 fewer national airings than FanDuel (2,186 vs. 2,982), according to media tracking site iSpot.tv. Overall, DraftKings’ weekly spending has been cut by more than half from its NFL Week 1 onslaught. On Monday, DraftKings fell out of the top 10 in national spending for the first time since August.

FanDuel remained in the top 10 across all advertisers for DFS, spending an estimated $14.1 million. That is still down slightly from last week, when FanDuel became the No. 1 weekly spender in the U.S.

Overall, it appears that DraftKings is in the midst of a process to taper down its television advertising spending, with a likelihood that FanDuel follows suit as the NFL season moves forward.

“(DraftKings CEO Jason) Robbins hinted that Week 1 NFL is like Christmas, so you spend a ton upfront to get people in at the most opportune time,” said RotoCurve’s Michael Rathburn. “The interesting part is that FanDuel increased theirs (since the NFL’s first week), but I think that was because they were so far behind.

“You push the envelope the first few weeks in NFL to see how far the reach is, yes, they will now scale back and settle in at true numbers. No need for overlay right now.”

Giant gap between the “Big Two” and everybody else

It is no surprise that DraftKings and FanDuel combine to offer the largest guaranteed prize pools. But the separation can be striking.

The two DFS giants combined to offer the vast majority of the largest guaranteed prize pools on Sunday. The only other site to crack the top 45 contests, in terms of guarantees, was Yahoo, which had to offer $240,000 of overlay for its $1 million contest. Yahoo scaled back its guarantee to $750,000 this week.

Yahoo does appear to be establishing itself as a solid No. 3, though, with 188,000 entries that produced $1.3 million in fees. Yahoo isn’t turning a profit on its guaranteed prize pools, but it appears that no operators other than DraftKings or FanDuel are, either.

“The biggest takeaway for me is what is going on with the race for No. 3,” Rathburn said. “Yahoo has monster numbers and hasn’t even turned on the juice yet, in my opinion.”

Zack Hall
- Zack Hall has been covering sports and business for more than 16 years as both a reporter and editor. He has won numerous awards with stops that include the Reno Gazette-Journal and the Bend Bulletin.
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