Fantasy Rivals Come Together

Sometimes, the path of least resistance is to join forces and cash in. That’s the strategy the two top online fantasy sports rivals are hoping works for them. DraftKings and FanDuel have joined forces, completing a merger that was more than a year in the making.

Fantasy sports has become big business, and online gaming made the market bigger and better. In the early going two Titans emerged in the industry, battling it out for players and bigger paydays. Then came the inevitable regulations, designed to force this brand of online gaming into a tight corner acceptable to outside interests.

FanDuel and DraftKings flirted with the idea of joining forces but continued to battle each other and the regulators for months before taking the path of least resistance and, likely, bigger profits.

The merger should not only reduce costs of doing business but also eliminate the confusion for fantasy gamers who didn’t really know who to choose when building their fantasy leagues. Now players can just concentrate on building, competing and winning.

But that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing for FanDuel/DraftKings … lawmakers are still looking for ways to clip their wings. While there hasn’t been a total witch hunt the likes of which killed online poker sites, fantasy sports sites still exist in a legal phantom zone that lacks what lawmakers like to call a “standard regulatory framework.”

While waiting for the inevitable Other Shoe to drop, the now-merged companies have decided to focus on what they can do something about: customer experience. New CEO Jason Robins, who held that role for DraftKings, was quick to say the company’s chief focus will be on improving player experience, including better interfaces, more contests, and more winners.

They hope to accomplish this while still working on the terms of the merger, which isn’t likely to be officially inked until 2017. In the meantime, both brands will continue to operate as separate entities in Boston and New York respectively.

There’s, of course, precedent for this kind of merger, even in the modern digital era. Sirius and XM Radio came to the same conclusion based on similar factors. Costs and regulations forced a merger. While satellite radio still hasn’t seemed to find its sweet spot, the merger solved enough problems to give the company a chance to focus on its main need: expanding its customer base.

Online fantasy sports will need to look at that as well, and, now, because they’re not too busy just trying to beat the other guy, they have time to do just that. Be interesting to see how they make that happen.

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of New York based PR Company 5WPR. 5W PR is a top 20 United States Agency; with headquarters in NYC and offices in Los Angeles and Denver.