1on1 - David Copeland on how ego inflated the DFS market to its detriment

1on1 - David Copeland on how ego inflated the DFS market to its detriment

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
David Copeland of Superlobby has a grim outlook on the DFS market, especially in Europe

Last week Superlobby, the daily fantasy sports (DFS) analytics company, announced via social media that it was re-appraising the future of the service given the circumstances that have affected the market in the past year. This was despite the news from New York that fantasy sports is once more to be allowed in the state and the news earlier in the week of the FanDuel rebrand and its imminent launch into the UK.

TotallyGaming.com spoke to David Copeland, founder and chief executive of Superlobby, about his views on the fantasy sports scene - and given his disappointments over the fate of his data offering - where he thinks the industry is heading both in the US and in Europe.

TotallyGaming.com: Why do you think DFS became so over-hyped in the last two years or more?

David Copeland: Ego, ego and ego. I think a lot of people were being told how great they were and got caught up in repeating the story. The financials of the business were consistently overlooked until it was too late. The true market size was being hyped as x but in reality and after one full year of huge media spend it is nearer x divided by 50.

TG: Do you think some of the leading DFS operators in the US disregarded the regulatory threat?

DC: They would say they were always aware of it and knew the day would come. Perhaps they tried to gain as much ground as possible whilst they could. Did the strategy work? Possibly it did, but now the market is looking a rather gloomy place and that includes the recent positive news of NYC supporting DFS.

TG: What do you think the future is for daily fantasy product in the US? Do you think it is just a niche product?

DC: I’m caught in between here. Personally, I love the product and believe it offers a casual alternative to sports betting. However, the market doesn’t lie and it would appear to have a limitation on its appeal to the mass market. Costs need trimmed, Operators are carrying huge and perhaps unnecessary overheads. We are also seeing rake percentages get out of control and towards 15% which is unsustainable for the high volume players who contribute to 90% of the sites turnover. The sites are stuck in a position where they want to appeal to the novices, but the reality is that if they turn away sharks then they have no business worth talking about.

TG: What do you think the future holds for DFS in Europe?

DC: I don’t think it stands a chance. The figures just do not stack up in any way, shape or form. The only people doing well in Europe or indeed anywhere are the data providers such as Perform. People can talk about innovative products all day long, but when the average entry fee paid is £2 (raking say 20p) then the whole topic of European DFS being successful is over in my opinion. 

TG: What do you think you learnt form the Superlobby experience?

DC: Great question. I have learnt that whilst innovation is great fun it often leads to the poor house. I have learnt an enormous amount about being an affiliate and what operators look like when you report the figures they wish they could keep quiet. The biggest lesson may be that no matter how great your idea is, if the market isn’t large enough then you should stop and reconsider everything.

Totally Gaming says: The disappointment from avowed fantasy sports enthusiast Copeland shines through. The future of DFS in particular hangs in the balance despite the welcome news from New York. A key question the industry will face is whether it is truly mass market or not. This would appear to be a question that FanDuel hopes its rebrand will answer but the jury remains, for now, out on that one.

We will also have to wait and see whether the European version of DFS gains any traction in the upcoming football season. One thing we know for certain, though, is that we are unlikely to be gaining any instant analytical evidence from Superlobby or anyone else to help guide us.

How central is a vibrant US market to the success of DFS internationally?

DFS exploded in the US, but has since hit legal turmoil. Can the product survive in other markets without a vibrant US industry?

Yes, DFS is a strong product no matter what the market
48% (12 votes)
Only in other markets where online gambling is restricted
28% (7 votes)
No, the US gives DFS the backbone and the credibility it would otherwise lack
24% (6 votes)
Total votes: 25
Poll availability: 
Wednesday, July 20, 2016 to Friday, August 19, 2016
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