New Game Formats Needed To Grow DFS Industry & Participation

I’ve been playing daily fantasy sports for 4 years and season long leagues for over 10 years. I still grind free-to-enter season long leagues like I have $1,000 on the line – so you can imagine how seriously I take daily leagues. I’ve been impressed with how much DraftKings & FanDuel invested (other people’s money) into prize-pools, advertising and mobile applications this last season. In the long run, this type of venture debt spending won’t be sustainable. Eventually DK/FD will need to generate net income and not be propped up venture capital money to really see if this is a viable industry.

So FD/DK blew through a TON of (investor) money this last season – and while awareness & prize-pools are up, the amount of advertising & overlays going on aren’t sustainable. One way I’d like to see the major sites grow is by introducing new games & formats that can engage the current users – but also attract more casual (fish) users.

One of the most promising formats I’ve seen recently is used when there’s limited games. As we all know, there are nights of the week in the NBA and NFL where’s there’s only 1 game or a few games. On nights like that, it’s somewhat boring to play daily fantasy because everyone’s lineup is virtually the same. A creative solution to this is apply a multiplier to bench/role players to make their stats worth more. For example, in the Super Bowl, you could have made every Chris Matthews stat worth 3x more compared to Julian Edleman or Rob Gronkowski. In other words, it gives users incentive to take risks on bench players, which diversifies lineups on a night where they are usually the same.

Below are more of my thoughts for individual sports. I realize all these ideas have been tried & are available, but more mass adoption of these new game formats by the top 2 sites will help engage existing users and attract new players.

Baseball

All Batter Formats I think are needed. So often I’ve played in daily fantasy baseball leagues where a pitchers single performance can have a great effect on your results. The casual MLB fan might be more willing to play if they only have to focus on batters than trying to find the pitcher with the best matchup. Often times as well – you have to make the decision to spend the bulk of your salary cap on pitchers or batters in MLB games today …. just being able to select batters would help the games grow.

Football

No DEF & Kicker – I know there are daily fantasy sites where these don’t exist but still one of the most annoying aspects of season long fantasy (for me) is constantly having to add/drop my kicker & defense based on the matchup or bye week. While less sites utilize kicker stats, the DEF position is one I’ve don’t like personally in season long leagues. Fantasy sports is about the individual players …. so it never made sense to draft & utilize an entire teams’ defense. The team DEF position goes against the idea of what fantasy sports is meant to be and I hope more daily fantasy sites start to offer more games without the defensive category.

IDP – If throwing out the defense isn’t the solution, I’d like to see IDP selections. Instead of offering every defensive player, daily fantasy sites could select a group of key defensive players like J.J. Watt, Richard Sherman … ect and have entrants select from a select group of IDP players. Might make selecting the defense position more skill based and not based on who gets lucky because their team D returns a TD for a touchdown.

Basketball

I think the multiplier contest format I describe above would work well in NBA contests – especially on Tuesday/Thursday where there’s normally a limited number of games – but they are usually on TV.

Mini games where you wager on 1 quarter or 1 half would be interesting as well – and certainly lucrative for the daily sites since they’d be raking money at a faster rate.

Golf

I’d like to see more 1 round (day) contests for golf. Having to pick golfers on Thursday you keep in for 4 days is somewhat boring & limiting. Occasionally there’s guys that need to finish rounds the following morning due to weather or darkness, but the daily sites could just delay the payouts until all play for that round is completed.

 

There’s dozens of things these daily sites can do to increase the likelihood of building a sustainable industry. Right now, all FD/DK have done is advertise and give away millions of dollars. That’s really not that hard or creative – as anyone could do that if venture capitalist gave you the amount of money DK/FD have gotten. The mobile apps, while not perfect, are the only tangible thing left after the large investments were blown on advertising & prize pools. Anyone who won significant money on these sites withdraws it because #1 it’s easy to do and #2 there’s not enough ways to blow it off on the sites. Remember when you’d hit a big score on an online poker site? You could chunk it all off in a few hands, where chunking off $50k on a daily fantasy site would take a few days at least!

If these daily fantasy sites want to grow where they don’t need daddy’s investors money to fund the operations, they’ll need to figure out ways to rake the money as fast & efficiently as an online poker site used to do. FD/DK need to figure out ways to develop mini-games … like wagering on the 1st half or 1st quarter of games instead of the entire thing. If they don’t do that, they’ll need to figure out ways to attract more casual players by making the selection process easier & faster by introducing new game formats. The industry cannot be sustained by dumb investors money. Eventually DK/FD will need to generate net income and sustain itself – which will require more than a few ads on TV and $1m in free money every Sunday.

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