This week we all witnessed the largest merger/acquisition in the young history of daily fantasy sports as DraftKings and DraftStreet agreed to pull their collective resources together. The move was executed due to the recognition of strengths and weaknesses at each company, and the synergies that could be realized under a unified effort of assets (both tech assets and human assets). For the two sites, it is yet to be determined whether or not those synergies will be realized and capitalized upon. For the players, how the leadership teams collectively prioritize and strategize features and functionality to deliver a complete experience will determine success or failure from a pure acquisition standpoint. For daily fantasy sports affiliates, like LuDawgs and many, many others – it could mean negative impacts to income as player pools are combined. For those who are impacted, I’d like to offer some advice: Dig down deep and find the passion that brought you to create an affiliate site to begin with, then get out there and find the next DFS diamond that no one is paying attention to.
When LuDawgs was beginning to promote Daily Fantasy Sports and collect affiliate links, we started with the obvious – FanDuel and DraftStreet have both been sponsors of our community at one time or another. What I realized after a few months of actively trying to recruit new players to those sites is that we were just flat out late to the game. There was no way around it early on. The Rotogrinders and FakeBasketball’s of the world had already snatched up all of the low-hanging fruit – and to their credit, through a lot of hard work and early recognition of an opportunity – they’d captured all of the early adopters through the channels we were only starting to try to leverage (social media, etc.). While our forums were extremely active with DFS players and conversation, from a revenue share perspective, that activity didn’t translate into earnings. So with that, I had to make a choice: 1) Wait for the adoption curve and hope for someone to throw us a bone 2) Go out and find the sites that no one was talking about yet. The decision that I came to, if you look under our partners section, should be pretty apparent.
We started with StarStreet and were the first to push that platform hard. I still recall some of those early conversations with Jeremy and his team as they made the decision to move from their stock market game and into daily fantasy. We were thrilled to push them to our community. Finally, referrals started to stack up…real referrals. After that, we moved on to StatClash, Star Fantasy Leagues, FantasyAces, Swoopt, FanEx, WarDraft and so on. We gave those sites a platform to stand on and present each of their own unique value propositions. And through that, we were able to create an affiliate business that could stand on its own, develop, and grow. I realized that not only were we creating a successful affiliate business, but we were becoming the engine for making the smaller sites successful and quite honestly, that feels just as good if not better to me as generating revenue share. Many sites only need a spark – they have the drive and the innovation – they just need a platform. Give it to them actively and with passion. Some have come and gone, others have prospered. Rest assured there will be many more to follow.
DFS Affiliates – it’s incumbent upon us to be a voice for the industry, not a voice for ourselves. Every single one of us has a responsibility to push this space forward. Granted, a lot of that comes by our promotion of sites like DraftKings – but a large part of it comes from the hustle in finding the sites who have no real voice yet. The darkhorse. The comeback. The grinder.
If you’re an affiliate that has been sitting back and collecting a check from DraftStreet based upon your early efforts and recognition, you may be losing that check soon. Guess what? Tough. Get out there and promote, grind, find the next site, do an interview, help bring someone to the forefront. Be a voice and a platform for a new start-up because you never know who the next DraftKings or FanDuel might be. It feels really good to do that and I personally challenge all of you to take the energy you’re focusing on your DraftStreet revenue and instead redirect it to reaching out and introducing yourself to a new DFS site.
There are those that will argue that there will be more consolidation and they’re probably right. But there will also be new innovators, new blood, and new passion entering this space. There is absolutely no reason to believe otherwise, that much I can tell you from experience. New concepts and ideas pop up every single day – go after one of them and see if you can help to make them successful. There are 3 or 4 sites that I’ve been personally meaning to circle back with that have reached out to us at LuDawgs in the past few weeks. I think I’m going to go do that now.
You should do the same and if you need any help or want any leads or want me to make connections for you, please hit me up and I’ll pass you their contact information with an introductory email.
Everyone grab an oar. Onward.