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It’s Thursday, America—get ready for lots more fantasy game site ads

AP Photo/Stephan Savoia
Are you ready for some football?
  • Ashley Rodriguez
By Ashley Rodriguez


Published This article is more than 2 years old.

If you watched television or surfed the Web recently, you’ve probably seen an ad, or two, or seven, from DraftKings or FanDuel featuring ecstatic fantasy sports players celebrating their winnings. The “daily fantasy sports” sites have spent tens of millions of dollars pushing their services since the start of the 2015-2016 National Football League season, joining some of the biggest advertising spenders in the US.

And they’re not showing any signs of letting up.

Combined, the pair have dropped more than $175 million on television ads this year, iSpot estimates, with the bulk of the buys occurring in September. DraftKings alone shelled out $120.1 million on 38,393 national television airings this year, as of Sept. 27. That’s more than 13 times the number of ads it ran by this time last year. Meanwhile, New York-based FanDuel spent an estimated $58.5 million on 18,238 airings, a 250% increase over the same period in 2014.

The daily fantasy sports startups have gone all-in on TV in an effort to dominate the broader fantasy sports arena, which has an estimated 56.8 million active players in North America, about 20% of which exclusively play daily fantasy sports, trade publication Adweek reported. Daily games are expected to rack up $2.6 billion in entry fees this year, according to Forbes. Both sites raised huge sums of money from investors over the summer.

Sports fan—specifically football fans—are the obvious demographic targeted by these companies. And while watching live TV is on the decline broadly, most fans still prefer to watch games (pdf) as they happen.

DraftKings and FanDuel, as a result, have been running spots around the clock, across more than 60 networks, with a majority of ads running during Sunday and Thursday night NFL games, according to iSpot. 

FanDuel kicked off the aggressive media strategy last year, and DraftKings came after them with a vengeance in 2015 when it realized how impactful the TV could be. So far this year, DraftKing commercials outnumber FanDuel’s at a rate of nearly 2:1, in terms of both television spend and airings.

Fantasy sports sites aren’t just taking over the tube—they’re also buying up digital placements. FanDuel ran online ads across more than 2,600 publishers in the month of September, while DraftKings bought spots on more than 350, according to Moat, an analytics firm that tracks ads across range of websites.

The startups may pull back ad dollars the NFL’s regular season progresses, but don’t expect them to vanish from your screens completely. DraftKings, and FanDuel to a lesser extent, have fantasy leagues for a range of sports, including football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, golf, mixed-martial arts, NASCAR, and, as of today (Oct. 1) e-sports, or electronic sports.

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