Daily fantasy sports is becoming such an epidemic that professional sports leagues are getting in on the action. The NBA just signed a deal to partner with Fanduel and will advertise their one day games on NBA.com, NBA TV, and their mobile app.
The two will also partner up to offer no cash prizes such as tickets to games and other NBA experiences.
Fantasy sports is a billion dollar industry and while the majority of Americans play fantasy football, these one day leagues that sites like Fanduel offer will hopefully bring more attention to the NBA.
Are You Suprised?
This move really doesn’t come as a surprise to me for a few reasons. The first is that other sites like Draftkings have already partnered with MLB and had major success.
DraftKings has also recently partnered up with the NHL in the same way FanDuel has with the NBA.
Studies found that people who play fantasy sports increased their viewership by 40%.
What about the NFL?
The NFL as a league hasn’t partnered with any DFS sites but plenty of teams like the Patriots and Broncos have. With other sports using fantasy sports to excel their product, it isn’t a surprise that the NBA would jump all over it.
I’m sure that the NBA was aware that there were already teams (Nets, Knicks, Bulls, Mavericks, and Magic) partnered with Fanduel and finding success with that small sample size of relationships.
The NBA Advocates for Legalized Sports Betting Also
Adam Silver has publicly announced that he wants legalized sports betting to be approved on all major sports. Some people feel this is concerning because of incidents like Tim Donaghy in 2007. Tim Donaghy was a NBA referee and was betting on games he officiated and had ties with organized crime. Donaghy was found guilty and sentenced to 15 months in prison with three years probation and admitted to the crime.
But sports gambling and fantasy sports aren’t the same thing. Sports gambling can be affected by one player and this is mainly because there are two parties going against each other when a bet takes place. You have the house (a casino, a website, or a bookie) versus the public (the people who took the bet) and regardless of what happens, one of the two sides is going to win the bet.
Organized crime can’t pay a player to throw a game because the outcome of the game isn’t what is important is fantasy sports, rather it’s the performances of the players. The fact that fantasy ownership (term used for what percentage of the people playing fantasy took a certain player) isn’t revealed until the game starts is a huge barrier to allowing corruption.
Why is the NBA Promoting Both Betting and Daily Fantasy?
So the question becomes why is Adam Silver trying to promote both? I agree with Silver that sports betting isn’t going away and the US government might as well make some of the millions of dollars that these offshore sites are making.
But when you look at the position that Silver is in, it’s pretty simple. He only cares about making money for his league and it doesn’t matter if people are watching the game because they have a bet on it or have fantasy players playing in it.
As long as people are watching the games and his viewership goes up, the league is happy. The higher ratings his product has, the higher demand there is for it. Basic economics tells us that things in demand make money.
While everyone knows that the NFL is King and it isn’t fair to compare apples with oranges, you can however compare the NBA with the MLB. Fantasy sports is believed to have boosted the sales of the MLB.com app, and DirecTV had the highest “Extra Innings” sales in their history.
Multiple surveys have shown that daily fantasy participation has led to higher viewership from participants.
Why is the NFL More Popular?
The NFL is so popular not only because of the actual game being played, but because it’s only once a week. Fans have a whole week to build anticipation for the games and it’s not likely that die hard fans will miss the game.
With fewer games in the season it means that each game has more value to a team.
One loss can make the difference between making the post season in the NFL because one game is a huge difference in the percentage of games played.
One game in the NFL accounts for 6.25% of a teams regular season where one game accounts for 1.22% of a NBA season. A lot of critisism the NBA has is that games don’t matter till the end of the season and/or the playoffs.
But Adam Silver knows if the public has money riding on the game with a bet or fantasy picks, people will care a lot more about mid season games.
Daily Fantasy Makes Routine Games More Meaningful to the Viewers
Sites like Fanduel have their yearly championship where the winner takes home a million dollars. Hundreds of thousands of fantasy players will be paying attention to a random mid-season NBA game day more than they would if they were not playing.
Even though people are focusing on the fantasy side of things, the bottom line is watching the NBA will be a top priority for people.
If daily fantasy sports keeps taking off the way it has over the last couple of years and Adam Silver can incorporate it to his ratings, it won’t be long until his partners in the league start referring to him as Adam Gold. Bad joke!