[toc]A temporary reprieve in New York last week gave the daily fantasy sports industry hope that it could stem the tide of falling entry fees in guaranteed prize pool (GPP) contests.
The first Sunday of NFL action since then, however, provided a mixed picture in NFL Week 15, according to a weekly report released Tuesday by DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com.
DraftKings managed to post its first week-over-week entry-fee gain in two months, but its net revenue from GPPs was cut by more than half. Meanwhile, FanDuel, which allowed play from New York and recently started accepting deposits from the state again, experienced its 10th consecutive week of falling entry fees. Yet FanDuel also posted more net revenue than DraftKings.
And then there was another surprise last week:
FanDuel’s week of NBA entry fees > Sunday’s NFL entry fees https://t.co/WX2Kvll6Rt
— Legal Sports Report (@LSPReport) December 17, 2015
In the chaos of this uncertain regulatory environment, it might be easy to miss, but the NBA season has been a relative bright spot for the DFS industry. And last week both sites again posted impressive entry fee totals and NFL-like effective margins (net revenue), even if each site showed a downtick in week-over-week entry fees.
“Both of the Big Two (in DFS) have been showing a comfortable level of profit each week and this was no different,” said David Copeland, CEO of SuperLobby, in his NBA data from last week.
A mixed bag in the NFL
More than two months have gone by since DraftKings or FanDuel last posted a gain in GPP entry fees for their Sunday NFL games, according to SuperLobby data.
That changed Sunday when DraftKings hauled in $17.2 million for its Week 15 GPP contests, up a tick from $17.1 million in Week 14. But the news was not all good at DraftKings.
DraftKings paid out $16.4 million, up from $15.2 million, as it returned its headline Millionaire Maker contest to a $5 million guarantee. The higher payout dropped its effective margin to about $815,000, or 4.75 percent. That is down from $1.9 million the week before.
Entry fees for FanDuel’s GPP contests fell to $11.8 million from $12.5 million, according to FanDuel’s own preliminary numbers sent to Legal Sports Report. But it also managed to preserve much of its profit, boosting its effective margin to 11.8 percent. For all of its GPPs, FanDuel brought in $1.4 million in net revenue, down slightly from $1.5 million in Week 14.
Across all of FanDuel’s NFL games for Sunday, including its non-guaranteed contests (DraftKings does not release that data), FanDuel saw its entry fees drop from $18.8 million in Week 14 to $17.8 million in Week 15.
By comparison, FanDuel brought in $20.7 million in entry fees across all its NBA contests held from Dec. 9 through Dec. 15, according to SuperLobby. FanDuel paid out $18.6 million for those games, posting a margin of 10.3 percent and net revenue of $2.1 million.
DraftKings, with only GPP data available, raked in $13.8 million and paid out $12.5 million. That was good for net revenue of nearly $1.3 million and an effective margin of 9.8 percent.
NFL will remain king, of course, but NBA revenues bear watching as they help blunt the effects of a football slowdown.
A closer look at the DFS numbers
According to the SuperLobby data:
- FanDuel’s 10.83 percent effective margin for Week 15 was its second highest of the NFL season, bested only by the 10.89 percent it posted in Week 5. It is also FanDuel’s fourth straight week of increasing effective margins.
- FanDuel’s season-long effective margin sits at 9.1 percent.
- DraftKings’ week-over-week gain in entry fees was its first gain in nine weeks.
- DraftKings’ 4.75 percent margin was its lowest since the second week of the NFL season.
- Across the eight sites that reported data, there was $35.55 million of entry fees paid on Sunday. Earlier this year, FanDuel alone generated higher entry fee totals in a single week.
- Data from Yahoo, DFS’ distant No. 3, was not reported by SuperLobby.
Advertising still not registering
For the sixth consecutive Monday, neither DraftKings nor FanDuel registered in the iSpot.tv top 10 of television advertisers. This has become par for the course as both companies have significantly ratcheted down their ad spending in recent months.
That does not mean the presence on the airwaves of both daily fantasy sports giants has not been pervasive. Just last week iSpot.tv updated the year for both sites, and DraftKings and FanDuel apparently have placed nearly 80,000 television ads through the first 11 months of the year.
Total number of TV Ads in 2015 thru November 30:#Draftkings 46,008. #Fanduel: 32,113 via https://t.co/kXr4BGmnh1 #DFS
— Robert Raiola, CPA (@SportsTaxMan) December 19, 2015
That is a staggering amount of advertising for two companies that were not widely know more than a year ago.
On deck for DFS
Change has been the new normal in the headliner games in the closing weeks of the NFL season, especially at DraftKings, which has tinkered with its Millionaire Maker contest significantly over the last few weeks.
For NFL Week 16, the GPP for the Millionaire Maker will once again drop. This time it will move from $5 million to $4 million; the entry fee is set at $1,500. Just two weeks ago, DraftKings set its entry fee for its Millionaire Maker at $3.
DraftKings does have two more $1 million-plus GPP contests for Week 15, with price points set at $50 ($1.7 million guaranteed, $150,000 to winner) and $5 ($1.25 million guarantee, $100,000 to the winner).
Conversely, FanDuel’s headliner Sunday Million will stay the same for the third consecutive week with a $1.75 million guarantee and $175,000 to the winner. The entry fee again is $25. It also offers its $1.2 million Sunday NFL Rush contest for a $5 entry.
It will be interesting how DraftKings’ Millionaire Maker shakeup changes its margins for Week 16. Of course, any momentum can be dashed by, say, another legal or regulatory battle in a large state.
Signs that Texas may be following NY AG lead on #DFS (wouldn’t be surprising since Texas is an “any chance” state) https://t.co/tEcVWm8zwY
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) December 22, 2015