|With multiple major sports leagues gearing up for a return to play, the betting industry is looking for a big second half of the year. One primary player on this front is FanDuel, which currently boasts sportsbooks in eight states (NY, NJ, PA, WV, LA, MI, IN and IA) and provides mobile sports gambling in four (IN, WV, NJ and PA). Cynopsis Sports caught up with FanDuel Group CEO Matt King to discuss a loaded back half of the year, the company’s positioning and partnerships and what the future holds for the betting industry.
King on takeaways from the pandemic: Our biggest takeaway as a company is the importance of continuous creativity within our product offerings to keep customers engaged and entertained. While traditional stick and ball sports were on the sidelines, we kept our fantasy customers engaged by introducing innovative contests for eSports, reality TV shows, Madden, Drone Racing League, and Sim Sports. The pandemic may have accelerated conversations on esports, specifically. On the gambling side, we’ve seen record engagement on our online casino and horse racing, with both serving as an excellent outlet for those seeking new forms of entertainment.
We are at a seminal moment in time as an overall culture, and FanDuel and the broader sports industry play a significant role within the broader societal landscape. It’s become apparent how tremendously important this category is over the past few months. We sit in a unique position that we have the opportunity to give fans a digital platform like ours to engage with during these times. We noticed our customers are much more engaged in events like the NFL Draft, golf, UFC, etc. than they would normally have been. Our customers have a growing interest in these sports and such sporting events act as a bridge back to reality and normality around the core U.S. sports. And we continue to play into that.
On growth trends: The first two years of legalized sports betting have exceeded our expectations, and we have solidified our position as America’s #1 Sportsbook. We have expanded our leading sportsbook offerings to nine states and look forward to the return of sports and continuing to offer our customers more unique ways to engage. Although many state legislatures face uncertainty about when and how they will reconvene in 2020, there is no doubt that the economic pressure of the COVID-19 crisis has legislators looking for new revenue sources that do not require raising taxes on citizens. When legislatures return in earnest, we firmly believe the number of states ready to consider accelerating mobile sports betting and online gaming legislation to drive tax revenue will expand substantially. And we also see the industry recognizing this is a unique moment in time, and working more collaboratively to set aside minor differences and get bills across the finish line. Across the board, it’s a time for pragmatism, and we see that producing a real opportunity for significantly expanding the map.
On partnering: As we look to own the space, collaboration with partners from the get-go is key. Our role is to make sports matter more to fans, by delivering the gaming experience they deserve, and partnering with organizations who are equally fan-focused is critical. We look for partners who share the belief that fanbases go beyond the stadium, and partner with teams who focus on the long-term and how to be mutually successful. For example, we recently announced a partnership with the Denver Broncos, marking the first sports betting partnership for an NFL team. The Broncos know the importance of adding value to the fan experience. This deal allows us to offer engaging fan experiences both inside and outside the stadium and access to unique betting promotions and content.”
On growth: As sports betting and fantasy sports continue to explode in popularity and participation, FanDuel is well-positioned to maintain its leadership position as a media and entertainment company. We are firm believers in the convergence of media and gaming, and content is an integral part of our overall strategy. As consumers migrate to digital platforms, we’ve made a strong push in the content space. We recently announced foundational partnerships with Minute Media, Pat McAfee, Sportradar, and SportsGrid to drive value and deliver what consumers truly want. As content consumption continues to shift, our goal is to have the richest content experience right within our app.
On the market: We know the demand for major sports amongst our customers is massive. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen more action on the sportsbook side with the return of sports like soccer, golf, and UFC. Golf, specifically, has seen massively increased interest and will continue to be impactful, as we’re seeing engagement levels on regular tournaments larger than some of the majors last year. With the return of sports fast approaching, we’re expecting significant action across our fantasy platform and sportsbook. We are celebrating the return of sports by offering several exciting and generous promotions for customers this week — be on the lookout.
The World Surf League is sitting out the 2020 as a result of the pandemic, revealing plans instead for the org’s 2021 campaign. The 2021 tour will start in November 2020 in Maui for the women and in December 2020 in Oahu for the men, subject to the approval of the State of Hawaii and local government agencies, The 2021 CT season will finish with ‘The WSL Finals,’ a new single-day World Title Event in September 2021. “After careful consideration and extensive discussions with key stakeholders, we have made the decision to cancel the 2020 Championship Tour and Qualifying Series seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said WSL CEO Erik Logan in a video released on WSL channels today. “While we firmly believe that surfing is amongst the sports best suited for competition to be held safely during the age of unresolved COVID, we have huge respect for the ongoing concerns of many in our community as the world works to resolve this.”
Univision saw its coverage of the Chivas vs. America match score big with 1.4 million Total Viewers with and 717,000 Adults 18-49. The viewership number, according to Nielsen, ranks as the top program on any network in the demo on Thursday.
GOLF Channel’s first round coverage of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide saw 1.08 million average viewers tune in, for a markup of 152% year-over-year. Thursday’s telecast became the most-watched opening round at the Memorial since 1997 and the most-watched weekday PGA TOUR telecast on GOLF Channel since the opening round of the 2018 TOUR Championship.
The MLS announced Friday that it would tap the brakes on the launch of three of its four expansion franchises: St. Louis, Sacramento and Charlotte. Originally scheduled to arrive in 2021, the Charlotte franchise will now debut in 2022. Cluns in St. Louis and the Sacramento Republic FC will start play in the 2023 season. However, the MLS’ Austin FC franchise will still start in 2021.
MLB Network and Pearl Jam entered into a content partnership designed to the kick in with the 2020 MLB season, which starts Thursday. A new MLB Network promotional spot began recently featuring Pearl Jam’s song “Who Ever Said,” from their new Gigaton album, and highlighting MLB Network’s live games, extensive studio programming, and wall-to-wall Opening Day coverage beginning at 10a. Social media activation, and a new piece on the phenomenon of the MLB’s season featuring Pearl Jam’s song “Superblood Wolfmoon” will debut during Monday’s MLB Tonight at 6p. Diehard Pearl Jam fans and MLB Network analysts Sean Casey and Ryan Dempster will also participate in a recording session on Pearl Jam Radio on SiriusXM, scheduled to debut Tuesday at 11a.
Speaking of baseball, the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball team – play-by-play voice Matt Vasgersian, analyst Alex Rodriguez and ESPN Senior MLB Insider Buster Olney – will call three national MLB games in four days to start the 2020 season starting Thursday at 7p with the Yankees/Nationals. To start the season, commentators will call games either from the ESPN studios at its Bristol campus, or remotely via a “Live from Home Commentary” similar to ESPN’s KBO League coverage. ESPN Radio will also nationally broadcast two MLB season-opening games with Jon “Boog” Sciambi and Chris Singleton on commentary to start the season.
Discovery is teaming up with Monster Jam for Diesel Brothers: Monster Jam Breaking World Records, premiering Aug. 8 at 8p as veteran drivers from Monster Jam attempt seven stunts striving to etch their names into the history books. “What better way to get ready for Shark Week than an adrenaline filled event,” says Nancy Daniels, Chief Brand Officer, Discovery and Factual. “From trucks flying through the air to Air Jaws, we will kick off this highly anticipated week with audiences cheering from their couches!”
Speaking of trucks, Raycom-Legacy Content Company is launching Season 2 of television series Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live Crushing It! Series hosts Tommy Kane and Kristen Beat return to take viewers inside the world of monster trucks with new stories and access to the creators and stars of the international Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live tour. The 30-minute, six-episode series produced by Raycom-Legacy Content Company will air in 115 US markets from July 18-Oct. 31.
It’s official! Cynopsis is delighted to be hosting the annual, highly-anticipated That Big TV Conference virtually this year on September 22-24. Registration is free, but space is limited, so reserve your spot today.
ESPN2 added five more matches featuring World TeamTennis. The newly added matches begin Tuesday, July 21, with Orlando vs. Washington and continue with San Diego vs. New York (July 22), Orange County vs. Washington (July 23), Washington vs. Chicago (July 24) and San Diego vs. Philadelphia (July 26).
The Colonial Athletic Association became the latest collegiate league to announce plans to skip fall sports as a result of COVID-19 worries. The 12 members of the conference, however, are allowed to pursue independent schedules.