A whole new fantasy from iBus Media
A whole new fantasy from iBus Media
Much of the chatter surrounding DFS as the new NFL season got underway understandably centred on how battle was to be rejoined by the two goliaths in the space, DraftKings and FanDuel. But away from their headline-grabbing marketing – or perhaps the lack of it – the fantasy sports market continues to throw up newcomers and challengers. One such is affiliate network FantasyWired’s news white-label offering, FantasyWiredDFS, that was launched for the start of the season on the iTeam network, pooling liquidity with (among others) US social media personality Dan Bilzerian’s Blitz Fantasy.
Since 2013 FantasyWired has been a part of the iBus Media stable of affiliate and performance media sites alongside PokerNews and CasinoSmash. TotallyGaming.com spoke to iBus Media’s chief creative officer Matthew Parvis about the new fantasy landscape and how the success of DFS in the UK and Europe will be dependent to an extent on NFL expanding its geographic reach.
Totally Gaming: The DFS market has clearly evolved significantly in the past year - where do you think we stand with regard to player interest and long-term growth?
Matthew Parvis: Well a lot has changed over the last year with some of the key operators; however, one thing that has remained is the interest players have in participating in fantasy sports, both seasonally and daily. It’s up to the key DFS operators to invest in researching ways to enhance the player experience even more, create a healthy ecosystem for the industry to thrive and provide a fair playing-field for beginners and advanced players alike. While there are questions surrounding DFS, I’m still fairly bullish on the industry as a whole. In some ways, I think it happened at the right time to curtail the growth a bit and allow the industry to take a look at itself and figure out what will make this industry a big success for years to come.
TG: Liquidity will obviously be key to your deal with iTeam - are you hopeful more sites will launch on the network soon?
MP: I think iTeam went about their entry into DFS the right way by trying the network/skin approach, hence why we were eager to partner with them as a marketing partner in this case. To be clear, in this scenario with iTeam, they maintain all the regulatory licenses as the sites operate, while we essentially utilize our brand as the key to the marketing funnel. When you’ve got two massive competitors like DraftKings and FanDuel, there is very little chance for a start-up to come in and succeed on their own. Taking the network route to boost liquidity was incredibly smart and I think iTeam has aligned themselves with some great brands. You’ve got guys like Phil Ivey and Dan Bilzerian, both who have huge personal brands, marketing to be paired with sites like ours.
TG: How does it sit with the business model of FantasyWired to also be a white-label operator?
MP: Well, at the moment, it doesn’t really change much. We’re still working with other DFS sites and we plan on continuing to do so. Players still recognize the big DFS brands rather than the game itself. For us, that means we still need to actively write about strategy to suit those big brands on our site and to keep our audience happy. The problem for us with the big brands specifically is that they have spent so much money marketing on television and in the mainstream media that there is far less low-hanging fruit than there is with poker, so there are only a small fraction of leads for us to actually convert. Pair that with the smaller sites having affiliate programs which aren’t profitable for the affiliates and we needed to find a new way to capitalize on the growing traffic of FantasyWired.com.
TG: What has FantasyWired gained by being part of the iBusMedia organisation?
MP: First and foremost, iBus gave a fledgling, one-man operation the infrastructure it needed to grow and compete in the DFS space. We have a large US audience on our network as a whole who we have a hard time monetizing due to online gambling restrictions. FantasyWired allowed us to create some value out of that audience again. We also started getting a lot of interest from DFS operators to advertise on PokerNews back in 2012 and 2013, and so the addition of FantasyWired seemed to be a very natural fit. Unfortunately, due to the issues the industry ran into last year, the growth and excitement in DFS slowed a bit. However, I’m still a believer that the industry is in its infancy. With our footprint getting a tad bigger each year, and our team of experts finely crafting a long-term strategy for growth, we might look at FantasyWired as one of our most valuable assets 10 years down the road.
TG: What do you see as the prospects for daily fantasy in the UK and Europe?
MP: I do think DFS lends itself more to US sports like NFL football, NBA basketball and MLB baseball. There are simply more scoring plays and statistics to choose from with these games than there is with European football. The success of DFS in the UK and Europe will rely heavily on how much more popular the NFL gets across the Atlantic, and seeing what the NFL is doing to bring the game to Europe, that seems to me more of a ‘when’ than an ‘if’.