When It Comes To DFS Marketing, No Partnership Is Off The Table

Posted on December 28, 2017

[toc]The momentum for legalized sports betting is seemingly building toward a crescendo amid the U.S. Supreme Court hearing arguments in Christie vs. NCAA this month. Of course, over the past several years, daily fantasy sports (DFS) already established its own foothold among fans who enjoy a vested interest in the sporting events they take in.

Off-again, on-again alliance between DFS and poker

Where DFS would fit within a landscape that includes legalized sports betting is still somewhat of an unknown. There have even been some rumblings about certain DFS operators exploring the possibility of adding a sportsbook. However, the history between DFS and the mere mention of gambling is intricate and complex. Avoidance of official association with the term has been pivotal to DFS being expressly legalized in 18 states over the last two years.

When DFS began to face intensified legal scrutiny in the fall of 2015, DraftKings ended a partnership with the World Series of Poker (WSOP). One it entered into just a year prior.

That announcement came on the heels of Nevada declaring that DFS was a form of gambling. As such, it required a gaming license to operate within its borders. Prior to that development, DraftKings and WSOP engaged in several cross-promotional initiatives that included significant branding, commercials, and the DFS operator running qualifiers for that year’s WSOP Main Event.

Fast forward two-plus years later, and DraftKings is dipping an exploratory toe back into poker waters. Whether the move represents a well-timed trial balloon in advance of a potential legalized sports betting landscape is up for debate. Poker is a distinctly separate activity. However, it undisputedly falls within the same “gambling” umbrella.

DraftKings reignites relationship with World Poker Tour

Tellingly, DraftKings’ latest foray into the poker world will unfold overseas; namely, at the World Poker Tour’s European Championship (WPT) in Berlin, Germany. The event takes place Jan.uary 10-15, 2018 at Spielbank Casino.

On the surface, the move makes sense purely from a marketing standpoint. DraftKings’ overseas presence includes:

  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Ireland
  • United Kingdom
  • Malta

Moreover, the tournament unfolds across the pond from North American soil on a continent where gambling of all sorts is much more prevalent, and thus, mainstream.

The partnership agreement includes DraftKings running eight qualifiers for the WPT via NFL and NBA contests. Winners receive travel, accommodations, and entry into the WPT European Championship Main Event.

DraftKings won’t be shy in commemorating its reintegration into the poker market. The company will reportedly offer a host of promotional giveaways from its on-site booth during the event.

Furthering DraftKings’ European presence

Whether the DraftKings-WPT partnership ultimately proves to be a launchpad for reshaping the operator’s relationship to the gambling landscape remains to be seen. However, at minimum, the agreement can be defined as another step in DraftKings ramping up its European presence.

Last July, DraftKings entered into an agreement with EuroLeague Basketball that made the operator the league’s official fantasy partner. One of the more unique aspects of the arrangement is that DraftKings has exclusive North American rights to livestream EuroLeague games on its DK Live app. Favorable viewership data ultimately could serve as an impetus for the company eventually forging similar partnerships for digital content distribution with other sports leagues.

Diverse portfolio of non-sports business relationships

Over the years, both DraftKings and FanDuel have displayed an increasing willingness to think outside the box – and industry — in terms of their business dealings.

For example, the latter recently partnered with the likes of the History Channel to promote the cable network’s new Knightfall series through multiple free-play contests. Players who wish to play in the tournament must first watch a short Knightfall trailer.

Similarly, apparel company UNTUCKIt sponsored NFL free play tournaments on FanDuel this season. Participants received a digital discount coupon to use on the company’s website.

In 2016, DraftKings also entered into multiple sponsor deals that entailed the promotion of upcoming major feature films such as Hacksaw Ridge, Deepwater Horizon, and Jack Reacher 2.

Some of FanDuel’s other past promotional and sponsorship agreements have included companies such as:

  • Bacardi
  • Corona
  • DISH Network’s Sling TV
  • Universal Studios

Meanwhile, DraftKings has been involved with the likes of Monster Energy, TGI Friday’s, and Ugg.

Sports-based partnerships prominent and plentiful as well

HBO Boxing

Naturally, both companies have also done business with a number of entities that boast a direct connection to the athletic arena. These go beyond the well-publicized dealings that each have with various individual sports franchises and professional sports leagues.

One prominent example would be FanDuel’s ongoing partnership with HBO Boxing, which promotes fights through a series of NBA free play tournaments. Some of the featured fights include:

  • Terence Crawford vs. Felix Diaz
  • Miguel Cotto vs. Sadam Ali
  • Daniel Jacobs vs. Luis Arias

Panini

FanDuel is also in partnership with sports trading card manufacturer Panini, which has sponsored a number of guaranteed prize pool contests (GPPs) in multiple sports on the site over the past several months. Some even offer special VIP experiences as the grand prize.

One such recent example was a Nov. 7 NBA free play contest that offered its first-place winner an all-expenses-paid trip to the NBA All-Star Weekend next February in Los Angeles.

Another was the Passport to London series that kicked off the current NBA season. Passport to London consisted of a compendium of free-play GPPs that ran for a 13-day period. In addition to cash prizes, it allowed participants to earn entries into an NBA Passport Finals Match on Oct. 30.

The grand prize of the latter contest was an all-expenses-paid VIP trip for two to London to watch an NBA game, as well as 300,000 NBA Panini Dunk coins, digital currency for use on the company’s online platform.

TuneIn

Moreover, both DraftKings and FanDuel have signed agreements within the past year with TuneIn, the world’s largest streaming audio network. A significant part of TuneIn’s vast content base is the audio broadcast of all manner of live sporting events, making their offerings a natural complement to DFS players that are sweating their lineup choices during any given slate of games.

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Juan Carlos Blanco

Juan Carlos Blanco has served as a freelance writer for a wide variety of online publications and websites, with an intensive focus on fantasy sports. An avid daily fantasy sports player himself, he’s provided analysis and comprehensive coverage of the MLB, NBA, NFL and CFL, while also reporting on news and developments in the daily fantasy sports and online gaming industries.

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