DraftKings Inks Exclusive Ad Deal With ESPN


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DraftKings, who is attempting to dethrone FanDuel and become the undisputed world’s top daily fantasy sports site, has come to terms on a deal that will give them the exclusive right to advertise on ESPN properties beginning in 2016.

Not part of the deal is the $250 million in funding from ESPN-owned Disney that had been reported over the last couple months while the two companies were in talks.

Details of the Deal With ESPN

Despite the collapse of the $250 million funding deal, receiving an exclusive deal to advertise to the ESPN demographic is one hell of a consolation prize. ESPN, is not only a top provider of season-long fantasy sports games, but is also a leader in delivering information to the engaged sports fan. Its core demographic of male, young and affluent, is just the type of customer DraftKings is trying to attract.

“ESPN is the strongest brand in sports. This is something that will definitely catapult us into the leader position,” said Jason Robins, CEO of DraftKings.

In an official press release, ESPN President John Skipper expressed the similarities between the two brands. “ESPN and DraftKings share a history of innovating and advancing fantasy sports to serve this passionate fan base. DraftKings is a dynamic company – deeply connected to its fans – and we’re excited to have them on board as our official daily fantasy sports offering.”

With FanDuel and DraftKings neck and neck in the gold rush for the top daily fantasy sports site, there is debate about who is poised to pull ahead, but DraftKings aggressive marketing tactics and collaboration with major sports appears to be working.

DraftKings logos and exposure is becoming ubiquitous over the last year, including a well publicized Belmont Stakes title sponsorship in June that saw American Pharaoh take down the Triple Crown for the first time in 37 years. A Sports Illustrated cover of the historic day even had three DraftKings logos in the background. A month earlier, a NASCAR deal was announced that made DraftKings the “Official Daily Fantasy Sports Partner” of Americas largest sports.

All these recent deals and new exposure is contributing to DraftKings rise against FanDuel, which recently removed a blurb from their website that claimed 80% marketshare of the daily fantasy sports industry. DraftKings now has the edge in baseball contests, but FanDuel was still overwhelmingly the go-to DFS site for football contests during the 2014 season, which is where most of the industry’s revenue comes from.

Where Does DraftKings Go Next for Funding

James Miller first reported on Tuesday that the advertising portion of deal was in trouble. While a short term blow to efforts to accelerate growth, DraftKings still has to be happy with the overall result with ESPN. With DraftKings gaining market share and the industry seeing impressive growth, there is likely not to be a shortage of investors who are looking to get their piece of the industry.

DraftKings has already raised a total of $75 million since last August. Plans to raise additional capital from other sources are apparently still in the works.