ESPN’s Matthew Berry moderated a SXsports session this afternoon that brought the more traditional world of Fantasy gaming together with the daily model. Nigel Eccles, CEO of FanDuel, kicked things off with a tale of the origins of his company. “It was born in Austin six years ago,” he said. He and his partners stood in front of a shed with post it notes containing several ideas. FanDuel is the idea that won. How’s that for Austin startup lore? Pretty amazing as it turns out. FanDuel boasts 1.5 million paying players. And they’re growing all the time.
That growing audience isn’t just for the good of FanDuel either. As Berry pointed out, “Fantasy drives traffic everywhere…Even if they play at another site, we believe it means they’re going to be more engaged in sports and will eventually come to an ESPN platform.” To put that into context, for ESPN, the average sports fan engages with an ESPN platform about six hours per week. The average Fantasy player engages about 18 hours a week.
That’s in line with what FanDuel sees from a broader perspective. Not only are FanDuel players consuming more sports content, they’re also paying for that content. About 10 percent of its players buy a league pass. Another notable characteristic of the FanDuel audience is that it skews younger than the traditional league model where 40-something men dominate.
While daily gaming is the shiny new object, league play remains popular. Clifton Ma, Head of Fantasy Sports for Yahoo, rounded out the panel with the league perspective. “It’s about camaraderie with friends,” he said. “The stuff Nigel (FanDuel) is doing is more around money.” The tricky element in the league model is in how you keep people interested late in the season when their Fantasy team is already out of the playoffs. Certainly, the daily model has a leg up there.