Daily fantasy sports (DFS) has quickly grown from a gaming spinoff to a multi-billion dollar industry. In just a few years, DFS sites like FanDuel and DraftKings have expanded their user-bases into the millions, their guaranteed cash prizes into the hundreds of millions, and now offer contests across NFL, MLB, NHL, PGA, NASCAR and even MMA.
Keen eyes already would have noticed DFS’s presence creeping into the boxing world in the form of sponsorships on Floyd Mayweather’s trunks, the ring canvas used in Andre Ward’s tune-up bout with Paul Smith, and the emergence of an upstart DFS boxing site — Throwdown Fantasy.
Maybe I’m optimistic to a fault — or, more likely, my full-time involvement in the DFS space is skewing my judgment a bit — but I feel that these are all early signs of the enormous revenue potential of collaborations to come.
The most obvious DFS-boxing “collaboration” would be recurring sponsorships and advertising campaigns, and potentially massive ones at that. (More on this in a second.) However, there are a myriad of other cross-platform partnerships that could have mutual benefits, including DFS contests awarding boxing trips, merchandise and VIP experiences, or sites simply adding DFS boxing to their game offerings.
Having said that, I don’t want to get lost down the rabbit hole of what partnerships might consist of, so much as why I feel that they’re inevitable and how they can help the sport of boxing.
Here are a few reasons why I think that boxing and DFS can ride a shared wave of growth:
The demographics align
DFS players are predominantly middle-aged men who are active online, love sports and have disposable income. In the simplest sense, boxing organizations should see revenue potential in partnering with DFS sites because their core audiences overlap.
PBC is looking for sponsors, DFS sites are looking to spend
DFS sites have armed up with more than a half-billion dollars in combined venture capital. An enormous chunk of this funding is being dedicated to customer acquisition through paid advertising, and the ripples are spreading tantalizingly close to the boxing world.
In June, DraftKings signed an agreement with ESPN granting them exclusive advertising rights beginning in 2016. The pact also calls for DraftKings to spend a reported $500 million on advertising with the sports giant over multiple years, as well as a “deep integration” between the two companies — presumably in the form of shared stats, strategy, news and promotions.
PBC’s launch this spring was met with plenty of skepticism, chiefly surrounding its ability to generate enough revenue to make the endeavor profitable. DraftKings becoming involved with PBC on ESPN seems like a natural solution.
TV networks already have stakes in DFS
NBC not only has equity in FanDuel, but a seat on the company’s board of directors. As of this week, Fox Sports now holds a stake in DraftKings. Two broadcasting corporations embarking on new boxing endeavors while also investing in rival DFS sites, all within the past 12 months: It seems like a DFS-boxing collaboration will be unavoidable on at least one of these networks.
Everyone loves a second screen, including boxing fans
For millions of football fans, fantasy has become a core part of the annual NFL experience. The same applies for boxing. It has always been a social sport, with viewing parties and side wagers staples of any major event.
DFS would bring this same, enhanced experience to new and existing fans. Gamers who aren’t boxing fans would hear about the sport through DFS channels, learn the intricacies of the sweet science, and be more likely to tune in to fight cards. For existing fans, DFS boxing contests would raise the stakes for viewers and enhance their spectating experience.
Wouldn’t it be cool to see a plug for a PBC card in ESPN’s ticker that included the fighters’ DFS salaries and historical CompuBox averages?
The long and the short of it
How do you interest new fans in boxing? You make it more accessible, experiential and fun. DFS could bring these elements to the table, while also infusing ad revenue across nationally televised broadcasts.
DFS isn’t a fleeting niche. It’s big business. And while there’s a bit of speculation and wishful thinking in this article, there’s also a lot of realistic possibilities, nevermind upside for our sport.
Jonathan Moreland works for DFS site rotogrinders.com.
(Image: Andre Ward, L, with the FanDuel logo on his trunks, fights Paul Smith)