How DFS can learn from Super6 success for Europe

How DFS can learn from Super6 success for Europe

Thursday, June 30, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Sky's Super6 prediction game shows the potential for DFS in Europe

The complicated nature of the developing regulatory landscape for daily fantasy sports (DFS) in the US has meant that the imminent battle for fantasy supremacy in Europe has been somewhat overshadowed.

Yet with FanDuel having followed DraftKings in securing a licence for the launch of operations in the UK, attention is now turning to the prospects for DFS in markets where the product’s commercial advantages are less obvious.

On the plus side in the UK the product has a clear regulatory structure to slot into. The Gambling Commission long ago determined that fantasy league – in the original season-long format – should be considered in licensing terms as pool betting. It gives them a stability which they noticeably have lacked of late in the US.

That regulatory certainty comes with its own challenges, though, and not the least of them is the presence of established and successful sports-betting operators. For Jon Trigg, fantasy sports industry consultant, it means the DFS operators will have to tailor their offer to suit the market situation.

“I don't believe operators should market DFS in competition with sports-betting products or markets,” he told TotallyGaming.com. “This would be a folly. DFS operators need to position the games as a compliment to traditional form of betting and aim for that same audience; the 18-45-year-old male group who watch and enjoy sport and this could be through good strategic and smart relationships.” 

It’s a fair guess that the media and marketing blitz saw the DFS operators rise to such prominence (for good or ill) within the past two or three years in the US is highly unlikely to be replicated in the UK. Firstly, it is a more crowded advertising market and it would be very difficult for DFS operators to have their message heard over the noise created already by sports-betting and other gambling advertising.

Second, it almost certain that neither FanDuel nor DraftKings can afford it. As the recent financial results from FanDuel prove, the company has seen its net cash position eroded severely by advertising splurge that accompanied the start of the last NFL season in the US. In June 2015 the Edinburgh-based company had reserves of $274m, but by March this year that had fallen to $47.8m.

But the fantasy sports operators that are currently targeting the UK are well aware that their approach to marketing the product will be much less above-the-line and much more creative and will indeed use the online marketing skills developed by their sports-betting rivals. “We are in a saturated fantasy and gaming market and therefore strategic relationships and better and more long-term affiliate deals,” says Trigg.

Paul Archer, the international affiliate manager at DraftKings, said at the iGaming SuperShow in Amsterdam in early June that the company believed that the potential DFS customer in Europe was not necessarily the same as the current consumer of sports-betting.

One of the home-grown fantasy operators that will be taking on the US imports is Fanager, which is currently running a beta operation over the course of the European Championships enticing fantasy players with its mix of pool betting and fantasy. Founder Marc Saba agrees that there is already evidence of natural audience for fantasy sports. “It’s the interest in the statistics of sport that is new,” he says. “Fan engagement is huge now, more than it was before I think, and among a much greater mass audience than the relatively limited betting audience.”

Both Saba and Trigg cite the success of Sky Bet’s Super6 games as evidence that the potential fantasy sports target market is no niche. Says Trigg: “Super6 is not DFS, but the premise of the model and the audience it appeals to is the same. Multiply this by other operators and traditional media, (and) we should see the market of regular game players of high hundreds of thousands to low millions in this country.”

In mid-June the first such partnership was announced when Mondogoal announced it had signed white-label deals with both Lottomatica and Sisal to provide a fantasy league offering. Speaking ahead of that new, Archer pointed out that DraftKings wouldn’t rule out doing deals not only with the sports team but also possibly sports-betting companies as well. “A critical factor will be aligning yourself with the team and the operators directly,” he said. “I think there is going to be conversations with existing betting companies.”

Totally Gaming Says: "Putting some estimates on the size of potential market, Trigg suggests that revenues of circa £100 per player per year would be achievable and hence the market could be worth upwards of £100m a year from the off. Whether it’s worth £100m from the off is up for debate but in the medium-term it would certainly be a sizeable pot. Saba at Fanager has a point when he says that the Super6 proves that a more casual sports-related product – in this case football – can have a reach far beyond just betting. In this instance, it also shows how powerful the mix of brand and fantasy-type products can be."

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