The NFL season is back this year with several changes.
One of the most significant changes is the sports league’s stance on betting. Up until this year, the NFL has opposed legalized betting. But this year, the league announced that it signed deals with three Official Sports Betting Partners—Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings and FanDuel.
With this change, we’ve seen programmatic advertising in this category increase 157% year-over-year, with DraftKings in the driving seat.
The NFL reverses course and embraces betting
For years, the NFL was staunchly opposed to betting.
“We’re trying to do whatever we can to make sure our games are not betting vehicles,” Joe Browne, an N.F.L. spokesman, told The New York Times in 2008. “We have been accused of allowing gambling because it is good for the popularity of the game. If that’s true, then we have wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars opposing gambling on our games.”
But times are changing. The new betting partnerships with Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings and FanDuel are valued together at an estimated $1 billion.
All three partners will leverage the NFL’s media properties, content and the league’s data feed. DraftKings and FanDuel will be able to integrate NFL highlights and “Next Gen Stats” content on their platforms. And Caesar’s will remain the NFL’s “Official Casino Partner.”
“Working closely with Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel, we will provide fans new and different ways of interacting and engaging with the sport they love,” said Renie Anderson, Chief Revenue Officer and Executive Vice President of NFL Partnerships.
Where did this change of heart from the NFL come from?
It was the natural (and lucrative) result of the dismantling of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018. When the federal ban on sports banning was repealed, states began to legalize and regulate sports betting. And revenue started growing.
It’s taken states several years to pass bills establishing the basic foundations for this new legal industry—meaning there is still a lot of room for growth and innovation. States like Wyoming are starting to allow cryptocurrency as a form of payment. Blockchain technology is expected to drive better margins for this multi-billion industry.
Sports betting is probably as old as sports themselves—but legal sports betting has changed the game.
DraftKings drives programmatic spending
As the industry prepares for a new football season, new deals with the NFL and advancing technology, we’re seeing ad spending increase.
In preparation for the Fall football season, fantasy football leagues invested $2.4mm in programmatic advertising in August.
This was primarily driven by DraftKings, whose spend accounted for 67% of fantasy sports league advertising.
Programmatic is just a portion of these companies’ advertising spending. The NFL is also bringing in millions from TV placements. The first week of football brought in $7.4 million from these companies, 9% more than last year, according to The New York Times.
This is a lucrative yet small and fairly nascent industry. There were only 29 advertising companies in August—but because states are still in the process of putting in legal frameworks for sports betting and the NFL is in its initial rounds of agreements, we can expect to see future growth.
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