In a crowded field fighting for viability behind DraftKings and FanDuel, Draft Ops has a clear approach: aggressively pursue high-profile partnerships and casual DFS users.
The upstart DFS operator was back in the news again last week on both fronts.
In a five- to seven-year deal first reported by Forbes, Draft Ops made itself the official fantasy sports partner of the Verizon Center in Washington D.C., and the three professional sports franchises that play there.
“It encapsulates the Mystics, the Capitals and Wizards, so it has all three teams,” DraftOps CEO Ron Doumani told DailyFantasyTalk. “And it’s five to seven years, so it’s a long-term deal and partnership.
“They liked our presentation, obviously. … I’m sure they left money on the table with DraftKings and FanDuel, but they liked what we had to offer and the synergies we could provide their brand. And in the deal they give us a very large 4,000 square foot space and we’re very excited to provide them with a wonderful product to get to their customers.”
The deal represents an extension of the Draft Ops game plan so far.
Over the summer, the company announced that it had raised $7 million in a “friends and family” financing round, then signed deals with Rich Eisen of the NFL Network and the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL, and locked up a partnership with the Barclays Center, new home of the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Nets.
Those moves have brought the company greater visibility. Eisen does live reads promoting the site during his show, which airs on DirecTV and syndicated radio, and appears in their commercials.
The challenge now becomes converting that exposure into new customers and then retaining them. To that end, Draft Ops is driving hard after the casual user—a coveted portion of the overall fantasy marketplace.
According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, 56.8 million people in North America will play fantasy sports this year, but estimates on the number of daily fantasy players ranges from four to eight million. Among those who don’t play, the reason most often given is the time and expertise required for success.
It’s these non-users that Draft Ops is hoping to attract.
“We offered a simple game for the casual user—the person that doesn’t have the time to commit to make it their full-time job to be a fantasy player,” Doumani said. “We gear our game to the casual consumer. … We try to capture the perfect blend of skill and some luck that’s obviously involved. There’s less time needed than to putting out these salary-cap games and being up against some of these sharks that have sort of cornered the market in some of these games now.”
As part of the strategy, Eisen announced a charity contest on his show last week. To promote the Draft Ops Pick 3 contest, Eisen and a league of celebrities will compete in weekly contests against a fan of the week throughout the season, with Draft Ops ponying up a total of $25,000 to charity.