Throughout its rise and current tenure as the leader in the daily fantasy sports (DFS) industry, DraftKings has often relied on two strategic elements to help elevate its profile:
- Partnerships with professional sports teams/leagues.
- A willingness to continue pushing the envelope in terms of product and prize scope.
Its recently announced multi-year content and marketing relationship with the PGA Tour serves a shining example of both. And golf fans – including those who’ve yet to discover the daily fantasy aspect of the sport – stand to benefit in a multitude of ways.
Daily fantasy golf like you’ve never seen it before
Naturally, each entity also has plenty to gain from the arrangement, which represents the latest immersion of the PGA into the real-money-based sports gaming landscape. Some of the company-level components of the newly minted partnership include:
- DK branding all DFS golf contests as “PGA Tour DraftKings Fantasy Golf”
- Brand integration for both companies throughout each other’s platforms
However, the bulk of the elements in the agreement are rightfully geared toward each company’s customers. That’s a pool that still has plenty of room for growth on either side despite the extensive success of both parties.
“We look at our platforms, PGATour.com, PGATour Live, PGA Tour app across multiple different devices, we’ve got an average of 10 million people a month visiting these platforms, these are 10 million hardcore golf fans,” explains Chris Wandell, Vice President of Media Business Development for the PGA Tour. “One of the things that we looked at when we started developing the partnership strategy with DK is that the crossover surprisingly wasn’t huge between our audiences.”
That’s music to the collective ears of DraftKings, considering fantasy golf already qualifies as the company’s fourth-largest fantasy sport in terms of customer engagement according to Ezra Kucharz, the company’s Chief Business Officer. One out of nearly every three DFS players in DK’s customer base – which exceeds 11 million overall – has played at least one fantasy golf contest.
And, Kucharz notes the company also reached a new peak of 20 million golf entries in 2018.
But that admittedly expansive group of players hasn’t quite experienced fantasy golf like they’re about to now that DK and the PGA are officially linked. Some of the most innovative customer-centric byproducts of the new agreement include:
- DraftKings contest participants having access to real-time or near-live highlights of golfers in their daily fantasy lineups as they play through in a tournament.
- A number of potential future innovations, including the possibility for DraftKings users to eventually integrate their DFS lineups into the PGA Tour Live app. While that’s a component Wandell concedes will still require some “integration work” on the tech side, it’s also one that’s “completely possible” under the agreement. If it comes to pass, such a feature would offer yet another interactive, real-time method of tracking the progress of the golfers in a lineup.
- DraftKings, and by extension, its fantasy golf contest participants, having access to the PGA Tour’s official ShotLink data. In the Tour’s own words, ShotLink is “a revolutionary technology that captures and reports vital information on every shot, by every player, real-time, during tournament competition.” ShotLink data will be utilized as the official statistical measure by which DK contest scores are graded.
- New content on both DK and PGA platforms designed to educate new players about daily fantasy golf and provide active, participating players with advice for setting their daily fantasy golf lineups.
- Forthcoming collaboration between DK and the PGA Tour on “real-time product enhancements” via the ShotLink data feed.
- What will be, in Kucharz’s words, “bigger prizes and special events in the future” for DK players stemming from the new partnership. That’s saying something, considering the company has already crowned 16 millionaires in its golf contests throughout the years.
PGA continues its gradual embrace of real-money-based gaming
As alluded to earlier, the DraftKings aspect of the partnership is par for the course, bad pun intended. What’s a bit more newsworthy is the other side of the equation – the PGA entering into a multi-year, multi-tiered business relationship with a company that is increasingly also carving out a sizable swath of market share in the burgeoning regulated sports betting industry.
To be clear, the current PGA marriage is strictly tied to DraftKings’ daily fantasy business; the sportsbook side isn’t integrated in any form — yet. But an official association with the DFS industry leader does reflect the Tour’s changing perspective on the allure of real-money-based gaming.
“There is a significant opportunity for us to start to teach our audience of how engaging daily fantasy can be [with the agreement],” Wandell said.
A partnership with a daily fantasy sports entity wouldn’t have even been possible at the beginning of 2019. However, in February, the Tour changed its policy to allow Official Marketing Partnerships and title sponsorships with companies in the DFS space.
And while the relationship with sports betting is much more arm’s length for now, that, too, could eventually evolve. Wandell labels the PGA as “big supporters” of online sports betting in the US, acknowledging how effective the activity also is in fan engagement as long there are integrity and social responsibility provisions.