FanDuel, SiriusXM Close To Going Exclusive As Marketing War With DraftKings Escalates

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Satellite radio provider SiriusXM and daily fantasy sports website FanDuel are close to a sponsorship deal that would lock out rival DraftKings, according to an industry source.

Carving out space

Adam KrejcikManaging Director of Digital & Interactive Gaming at Eilers Research, an expert in the DFS space, broke the news on Twitter:

The likely deal is meant to push FanDuel’s profile up on SiriusXM’s wide array of sports programming, including a station dedicated to fantasy sports.

That news comes on the heels of a pending deal between DraftKings and ESPN that would effectively shut FanDuel and any other DFS site out of the family of sports networks. And FanDuel is closing in on a new round of funding that would push its valuation to $1.5 billion.

Another battle in the marketing war

FanDuel and DraftKings now seem to be ramping up efforts to lock up sponsorship deals, of any type.

  • With the NBA (FanDuel) and the NHL (DraftKings) already out of the way, DraftKings has entered into an extended deal with Major League Baseball. The NFL remains the biggest sponsorship deal either site could enter into.
  • There has been a consistent run of team-specific deals inked by FanDuel and DraftKings across the major sports leagues in recent months. There have been nine signed this year, and 25 signed in the past six monthsCheck out this information graphic to see the deals that have been completed.
  • DraftKings solidified its foray into DFS for mixed martial arts by getting a deal done with the UFC.

Clearly, FanDuel and DraftKings have no intention to sit still in their high-stakes battle for DFS supremacy. So where are the two sites headed next?

More league, team and player deals

Although a lot of teams have picked a side in the FD/DK war, the majority of teams in every sport have not signed deals.

  • NBA: FanDuel and DraftKings have the most penetration of any sport in pro basketball, as 13 teams are signed to deals. The NBA deal with FanDuel seemingly has no effect on teams’ ability to sign individual deals.
  • NHL: Team deals in the NHL aren’t as valuable, simply because NHL lags in terms of fantasy participation. But that probably doesn’t mean that FanDuel, DraftKings and others won’t try to snatch up team-specific deals.
  • NFL: The league seems to be in no rush to pick a side in the daily fantasy war. That leaves teams to sign individual deals with sites; only six have done so so far. One would expect that a lot more deals will be struck leading up to this year’s NFL season.
  • MLB: According to the press release on the new deal with DraftKings, the site “will partner with participating individual MLB clubs to create once-in-a-lifetime, market-specific in-ballpark experiences.” That seems to take FanDuel out of the mix.
  • Players: Neither FanDuel nor DraftKings have invested heavily in endorsements or sponsorships with individual players. Could that change as the stakes go up?
  • Golf: DraftKings is heavily invested in the DFS golf market. FanDuel isn’t in the sport at all. Is a deal with the PGA Tour on the horizon?

More media deals

The pending deals with ESPN and SiriusXM are likely just the first volley by the two sites as they attempt to gain exclusivity, or at least an advantage, in different platforms. Here’s a look at some other media that might be in the crosshairs next:

  • Other online sports platforms: FanDuel already has an exclusive deal with CBSSports.com, which is heavily into traditional seasonlong fantasy sports, as is Yahoo! The latter would seem to be a prime candidate for exclusivity, as both FD and DK advertise heavily there now.
  • NFL TV broadcasts: Doing substantial ad buys during NFL games seems like a next logical step for both sites. If the ESPN deal goes through, that likely puts DraftKings on Monday Night Football. NBC Sports is an investor in FanDuel, so that puts them in play for Sunday Night Football. That still leaves a lot of room for the majority of games shown on CBS and Fox (The aforementioned deal with CBSSports.com might grease the wheels, but we are guessing CBS is still in play).
  • Other sports platforms: ESPN isn’t the only game in town, although it is the biggest in terms of sports content. NBCSN would be in the FanDuel camp (see above), although their programming doesn’t necessarily cater to DFS players. That leaves CBSSN and Fox Sports 1 and FSN2, as well as the host of regional sports networks around the country.
  • Fantasy sports portals/strategy sites: While it seems like a stretch that some of the largest sites would think about going exclusive (i.e. RotoGrinders), it’s not out of the realm of possibility that some of the smaller sites could be picked up.

Events in the DFS industry has been transpiring at a blistering pace of late. And more dominoes are sure to fall in the coming days, weeks and months.

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.