Both Daily Fantasy Sports Sites Prepare For Final Week Of NFL Season
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DraftKings Entry Fees Up, FanDuel Down Slightly In NFL Week 16

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After weeks of falling or stagnant entry fees, the major players in daily fantasy sports apparently enjoyed a decent second-to-last Sunday of the NFL regular season, according to a weekly report released Thursday by DFS analytics website SuperLobby.com.

The lowdown for NFL Week 16

NFL Week 16 was particularly good for DraftKings, which posted its largest gain in entry fees for its NFL guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) in two months. FanDuel, meanwhile, managed to hold relatively steady from the week before.

And after DraftKings raked in more in entry fees for its Sunday NFL GPPs than FanDuel brought across all its Sunday games, DraftKings emerged as the No. 1 in NFL DFS, according to SuperLobby.

In addition, both sites again posted strong NBA numbers, especially FanDuel, which again managed to bring in more in entry fees from pro basketball for the week of Dec. 16 through Dec. 22 than its NFL Week 16 Sunday games.

Legal concerns for DFS still in play

While the legal and regulatory environment remains cloudy, both sites seemed to be aided by remaining active in New York and avoiding shutdowns in other states.

The focal point last week was in Illinois, where the state’s attorney general said in a legal opinion that DFS is indeed illegal gambling under state law and that the sites should leave. Both sites continue to operate in Illinois, but the stakes are high.

 

Concerns about DFS have popped up in other states, too, including most recently in Missouri. In other words, it was another normal week in the daily fantasy sports industry.

 

A good week at DraftKings

After posting a modest uptick in entry fees for its Sunday Week 15 games, DraftKings surged forward in Week 16, according to SuperLobby data.

DraftKings attracted $18.1 million in GPP entry fees in Week 16, up from $17.2 million in Week 15. Better yet for DraftKings, it was able to hold its payouts steady from the week before at $16.4 million. That allowed the DFS giant to increase its net revenue from about $815,000 to $1.8 million, or 9.7 percent.

Down a bit at FanDuel

FanDuel held much of its ground by taking in $11.5 million in entry fees for its GPP contests, which is down slightly from $11.8 million in Week 15, according to FanDuel’s own preliminary numbers sent on Monday to Legal Sports Report.

But its effective margin fell from 11.8 percent to 10.9 percent. For all of its GPPs, FanDuel brought in $1.3 million in net revenue, down slightly from $1.4 million in Week 15.

Across all of FanDuel’s NFL games for Sunday, including its non-guaranteed contests (DraftKings does not release that data), FanDuel raked in $17.4 million in entry fees, which is down slightly from $17.8 million in Week 15. By paying out $15.6 million, FanDuel posted net revenue of $1.8 million, which is down from $1.9 million.

The NBA part of the equation

Once again, though, FanDuel received a boost from its NBA games. FanDuel brought in $20.4 million in entry fees across all its NBA contests held from Dec. 16 through Dec. 22, according to SuperLobby. FanDuel paid out $18.3 million for those games, posting a margin of 10 percent and net revenue of $2.1 million.

Meanwhile, DraftKings took in $13.6 million for its NBA GPPs and paid out $12.2 million. That was good for net revenue of about $1.4 million and an effective margin of 10.8 percent.

A closer look at the DFS numbers

According to the SuperLobby data:

  • With one week to go, FanDuel has posted $39.4 million in net revenue across all its games for the entire NFL season.
  • Counting just its GPPs, DraftKings has brought in $23.8 million in net revenue.
  • FanDuel’s NFL entry fee numbers fell for the 10th consecutive week.
  • FanDuel has so far posted an effective margin of 10 percent or better for 13 of the NFL’s 16 weeks.
  • DraftKing’s effective margin of 9.74 percent for Week 16 more than doubled Week 15’s 4.75 percent margin.
  • Yahoo remains the clear but distant No. 3 in DFS, drawing $657,070 in entry fees while paying out $627,500 for Week 16.

More on advertising

Both DraftKings and FanDuel remained relatively quiet on the advertising front, once again falling short of the weekly iSpot.tv top 10 of television advertisers.

But analysis of the DFS giants’ advertising binge has continued to trickle in. Through Dec. 14, DraftKings and FanDuel spent a combined $300 million on television ads, according to iSpot and the Wall Street Journal.

Many believe that the advertising tactics early in the NFL season may in fact be what initially turned regulators’ eyes toward the industry.  

DraftKings, though, says that advertising has played an important role in the growth of daily fantasy sports.

“Television advertising has served us well in introducing DraftKings to new players and informing current players of innovations in our game offerings,” DraftKings said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.

Goodbye to the NFL regular season

One last week of the NFL means at least one more week to tweak DraftKings’ Millionaire Maker contest. For the season finale, DraftKings again is offering a $4 million prize pool. But the entry fee will return to $20 a week after the DFS heavyweight bumped the fee to $1,500 and limited the contest to 2,960 spots.

In addition, DraftKings will offer a $1.25 million contest for a $3 entry fee.

After weeks of changes, FanDuel appears to have settled in with its headliner contest. For the fourth consecutive week FanDuel will offer a $1.75 million prize pool, $175,000 to the winner, for its Sunday Million contest. The entry fee will also remain unchanged at $25. FanDuel will again offer a $1.2 million Sunday NFL Rush contest for a $5 entry.

Of course, both sites will be hoping for a strong final full Sunday of the NFL season.

With no imminent state shutdowns before the final week of the NFL regular season, and enthusiasm for the playoffs ahead, both sites could very well enjoy a bump in action this week.

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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