The worlds of sports, media and gaming are likely to coalesce during the next several years and the co-founder and chief executive of Boston-based DraftKings believes his company and its 8 million customers will be a major player in that new world.
Jason Robins, who built DraftKings into a $1.5 billion fantasy sports colossus in just five years, told 250 business executives at the AIM Executive Forum this morning that companies like his have raised interest in professional sports and given fans an entirely new experience of watching everything from NFL Football to major league soccer
“A lot of exciting things on the horizon,” he said during a 45-minute conversation with AIM President Richard Lord.
"What technology and mobile have done for gaming and media, it's incredible, and we've only sort of reached the tip of the iceberg. I think you're going to see a convergence of media and gaming.
"I also think this sort of media landscape where all the content is scattered around different places and you have to have a bunch of different services or you have to sort through 800 cable channels to find what you're looking for, it's not necessary anymore."
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) allows fans to enter daily and weekly fantasy sports contests and win prizes based on individual players’ performances. Industry researchers estimate that players spent an estimated $3.26 billion on daily fantasy sports in 2016.
Robins said DraftKings surpassed more established competitors to became the pre-eminent DFS company “because we had a better mousetrap.” The keys to that mousetrap, he said, were products, technology and analytics that created a “game within a game” for sports fans.
What Robins and his partners did not anticipate in 2012 was the intense level of regulatory scrutiny that DraftKings and other DFS companies would engender both in Massachusetts and across the country.
DraftKings has supported consumer-protection regulations for the fantasy industry implemented by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in 2016 covering issues such as excluding minors, ensuring “fair” gameplay, prohibiting contests on college sports, and spelling out standard marketing practices. Robins said those regulations, though not perfect, have become the basis for DFS legislation in more than a dozen other states.
The company is less enthusiastic about a commission report several months ago that recommended that the Massachusetts Legislature enact a law that would label DFS as gambling and give the Massachusetts Gaming Commission oversight over the industry.
“I will continue to work with them on the way they have gone about their analysis,” Robins said.
He believes the future is a bright one for DraftKings in large measure because of its customer demographics. DraftKings, he said, have the customers everyone wants – millennials in higher income brackets who do not hesitate to spend money on entertainment.
"What we've tried to do is position ourselves as a platform, partner with companies that own these types of rights, and say, look, we can help you in the world where you're trying to grow your subscriptions, your direct-to-consumer business," Robins said.
"We have the customers you want, we know exactly what they're interested in and we have the data to target them."