This very material is based on presentations of Alexey Belov (the founder of a project “Time To Draft”) held at the conference Fantasy Sport Ukraine.
Alexey Belov made a short review of DFS world markets, as well as shared a little bit about special features peculiar to fantasy sports as a variety of contemporary business. Special attention was given to challenges and prospects of the development of this trend in Eastern Europe. One of main parts of the said report was dedicated to the activities of an affiliate – “Time To Draft” portal, as well as to the market research and further business projections.
Informative Internet-platform Time To Draft
An affiliate is a person or an organization bringing in new gamblers to the gambling rooms. ¨Time To Draft” is a project oriented on popularization of fantasy sports as special types of entertainment and, consequently, attraction of new gamblers. The main difference between this very project and the rest of common media projects is that it does not imply traditional one-legged information exchange between journalists and readers, on contrary; it embodies a brand-new product being conjointly created both by readers and by journalists. As it was mentioned by the speaker himself: “We create a real DFS community”.
“Time To Draft” has its own webpage allowing users to get free access to educative and informative materials, as well as gives them a possibility to communicate on specialized forums, read and leave feedback in blog sections, contact representatives of DFS-platforms, consult experts and experienced gamblers. The website is specifically focused on various educative materials oriented on gamblers of different levels of expertise. All the writers keeping blogs and columns on this website are actual DFS players, that makes them aware of the most burning issues peculiar to this industry.
The team of experts shaping “Time To Draft” are known for being very experienced, and their good gaming results serve as a vivid proof of their professional level. That definitely gives them some weight and authority among average visitors of this resource.
DFS market in the USA and Canada
DFS markets of the USA and Canada have proven reputation of the most developed ones. First of all, they might seem interesting to explore precisely due to the fact that they impose their own trends on the rest of markets, and according to the current forecasts, a lot of them are spreading all over East European markets.
According to statistical evidence in 2016, around 57,4 mil. people in North America experienced joy of playing fantasy sports. In percentage terms, it comprises around 22% of Americans and 17% of Canadians, which is to say, practically every 5th resident of North America supposedly played Fantasy Sports in 2016. The table given below shows data concerning demographic characteristics of the audiences playing fantasy sports in US and Canada.
66% - men, 34% - women
38-39 years old
Have college or higher education
66% of players
Annual income around $75000 and higher
More than 51% of players
67% of players
Average annual expenditures on fantasy sports among players aged 18+
Favourite fantasy sport
Proportion of payments made for the favorite players of the league
70% out of total amount of payment transactions
According to the data provided by FSTA (Fantasy Sport Trade Association)
Let us take a closer look at the most relevant factors. As for the gender differences, it was previously argued that around 66% of men and approximately 34% of women play fantasy sports. In reference to Eastern Europe, you won´t obtain similar data, as long as its target audience is quiet conservative and traditionally keen on football only.
66% have college education or even higher degrees. Average expenditures on fantasy sports make up $556 per player (these expenses include seasonal and daily fantasy contributions, as well as purchase of additional materials like aces or educational manuals).
If we multiply the total number of audience playing fantasy sports by $556, we will get $31,9 bil., a sum that comprises the whole turnover of fantasy sports market in the North America. This is not the amount of revenue from the Internet platforms. This is just the stream of money peculiar to this market. Basically, these resources are redistributed among players. Some of the players are real millionaires; in fact, there are about 15 people in North America who made their millions out of playing DFS.
Surveys, held throughout these locations show that DFS turns out to be very remunerative for the hosts of these sports venues. 64% of questioned fantasy sports players confirmed that they started watching sports live streams more. Well, an average football fan, surely, can skip some of the matches he is not really interested in, while fantasy sports player watches them all. Constant monitoring of sports broadcasts is crucial for the development of skills peculiar to a real fantasy sports player. And all the successful and proficient players confirm that 61% of surveyed players claimed that they started reading more information and materials on sports after they started playing fantasy sports.
Playing fantasy sports in the North America is regarded more as a hobby than moneymaking. This is how people get new emotions out of ordinary sports events. In the legal sense, these countries view DFS as games of mastership that allows their participants win court cases in states where DFS is regarded as gambling and has to be prohibited. Many states have prohibitions on fantasy sports, but approximately once a month some of the states lift their bans. Experts and participants of the market are unanimous in their views saying that the USA is gradually moving towards fantasy sports legalization.
East European market
Currently East European market is a tidbit for operators, because the potential of the development of this industry on this very market is huge, as far as this market is not fully captured. The audience of the Eastern Europe is constantly “warmed up” by the media. For example, in Russia appeared a couple of specialized informative resources and Internet portals such as Time To Draft that provide readers with the latest articles, blogs and news from the industry. There was a significant boost in advertising within the emergence of various draft-rooms and Russian-speaking websites. As a result, audiences got extremely interested in fantasy sports. That’s why experienced operators understand, that they can currently attract and capture this audience.
It was estimated that there are approximately 9 DFS Internet-platforms in Eastern Europe providing services for gamblers and players.
Here is a more detailed description of each platform:
Currently Fanaments takes the last place in the general platform ranking, but not later than last year it used to be one of the leading platforms for fantasy sports playing. Unfortunately, it soon became infamous because of unfair treatment of affiliate partners, as well as loyal gamblers, and due to the rest of negative activities. Moreover, if you look at the graph showing trends of development of different websites for fantasy sports players, you might notice, that the curve representing Fanaments is rapidly dipping down. The other curves corresponding to the rest of platforms show 20-30% growth indices.
Oulala is a pretty appealing and challenging platform that turned out to be very visitable during the last season. Recently its directing officials signed a deal with the Leicester City F.C. (current champions of England) that heated the interest of gamblers even more. As for now, the volume of traffic to the website is not very big, as long as not many of the games are played; anyway, there are some rumors about the upcoming big changes in the tendencies.
Premier Punt can be characterized as a quite unsteady platform, as long as there might occur long breaks between tournaments. There is also a little instability in the guarantees for the players. Moreover, this platform has off standard rules of joining the tournament.
Zweeler is a platform for the newcomers and beginners. Compared to the mentioned previously, this platform is the most long-standing, founded and functioning since 2010. It was initially set as a platform for soccer betting and only later, the sponsors added up fantasy sports to its functioning. This experiment turned out to be quite successful and the whole crew continued experimenting while elaboration and development of the new tournaments, rules, etc. It is quite hard to make sense of this platform, if you are not an experienced fantasy sports player.
DraftOn is a resource supported by the affiliate known as championat.com (www.championat.com). Among all the platforms mentioned previously is the most visited one. Anyway, Fanteam, for instance, exceeds it in gaming and in the amounts of prize money.
According to Alexey Belov, there are a couple of troublesome issues for the players that might impede further development of this Internet portal. For example, this platform hosts tournaments with certain quantities of players. But if it happens that even 1 player of the team lacks, the whole tournament is going to be cancelled. In other words, you can visit this platform, spend an entire hour gathering the team, settle on the choice of the team members, and at the very end , unexpectedly, find out that the whole tournament is cancelled and you literally wasted your time.
Total Draft is an entirely new platform launched in May 2016. Currently its functioning can be characterized as a testing mode, but it seems quite promising. It already gives an opportunity to play for money and win while trying free rolls. Anyway, players are not able to make their own deposits. They are only able to play using the money they won in free tournaments.
And, finally, we approach to the front leaders of the fantasy sports industry in Eastern Europe such as
FantasyBet and FanTeam. FantasyBet is appealing due to its unusual approaches to conducting tournaments and FanTeam grabs the attention of various players due to the high guarantees on tournaments they provide, the highest in Eastern Europe so far. Unfortunately, one of the negative sides of this platform is the existence of bugs that put any game at risk. However, this is just a temporary issue happening due to the recent updates on the website. Consequently, there are some technical issues but the platform is steadily developing.
RedStar is also a good platform for playing fantasy sports, but visually it looks like a poker room or an online casino, that is why it cannot be fairly compared to the rest platforms.
Currently, none of the enlisted platforms has a mobile version that could be called ideal. And taking into the account that more and more people nowadays are using mobile Internet, it is a very important parameter. From the point of view of various experts from Time To Draft, progress is possible only for those platforms that will manage to launch mobile applications first. Within the wide popularity of the mobile Internet, applications are more than just a mainstream tendency. Moreover, people cannot always stay in front of the computer in order to gather the necessary team squad. However, if it is possible to do via a mobile phone or a tablet PC, it will turn into an undeniable advantage for DFS platforms. Broadly speaking, you can start playing even now via your mobile, but it will become quite troublesome.
According to the studies conducted by the European Fantasy Sports Association, in the upcoming 5 years Europe is going to integrate into Daily Fantasy Sports fully. The team belonging to the Internet portal Time To Draft has made its own survey among users, who participated in fantasy sports and gambled in the betting shops.
The studies showed that approximately 76% of people, who lost while playing in betting shops or Daily Fantasy Sports trusted DFS more, because in the case of DFS people play against the same real people, not against the whole company. 83% of the surveyed claimed, that compared to betting houses DFS is way more exciting, though complicated.
The highest point of DFS boost is predicted for 2018 when Russia is going to host FIFA Football Cup. The top events of this level always attract big audiences. And, according to Time To Draft, the current number of DFS players is going to grow by 30-50 times.
Alexey Belov concluded with 3 main points:
This is the most advantageous time for promotion of fantasy products in Eastern Europe and many operators still have a chance to carve out a niche on the market, which is way better than constant competition and fighting with rivals over already conquered segments.
Capitalization of the projects is going to increase within the boost in number of players in 2018.
DFS promotion and popularization is a conjoint goal of all the interested parties such as operators, the media and gamblers themselves.