Eilers Research conducted the first Daily Fantasy Sports player survey between June 18th-Jul 9th. After receiving responses from 1,420 players, Eilers compiled the data to draw some unique perspectives on the daily fantasy sports industry and overall player behavior. From a players perspective, it is an exciting time to be involved in this industry and this overview is one of the first pieces of evidence we have to shape this industry. I will go over some of the main takeaways that are key to DFS players. The entire survey results can be found here. As is the disclaimer with most surveys, this is only from a small subset of the overall population but hopefully helps to draw conclusions for the whole DFS player base. Although I have no evidence to back this up, the majority of respondents most likely skew to active twitter members and made up by a lot of rotogrinders members.
This could have been speculated by most but it is extremely interesting to actually see hard evidence to suggest the rapid growth that DFS has experienced over the past two years. 62.3% of respondents say they have been playing DFS for 2 years or less and 32.1% of respondents have been actively playing for less then 1 year. It is easy to see the tremendous growth in such a short time frame. This is why most are saying this next NFL season will be the key to determine how successful this industry can really become. If we see lots of new entrants again into the ecosystem then Daily Fantasy Sports will continue to grow and accelerate at the alarming rate that we are used to.
It is often tough to have people draw clear distinctions between Advanced, Intermediate and Beginner understandings of DFS but it is exciting to see that over 70% of respondents fall into the first two categories. The 3% of those who are classified as Pro probably make up the majority of Pros who actually play DFS. So if you were somehow able to ask every single person that played DFS this question, you would probably get close to the same number of people who are actually pros as this survey did. What I mean is that the majority of people who actually do play DFS for a living responded to this survey. So in being able to reach the entire population I doubt you would stumble across many more people that classified themselves as Pros.
Daily Fantasy Sports Sites and Usage
DraftKings and FanDuel dominate the overall market for DFS play that much is obvious. There is definitely some separation between DraftKings and FanDuel as far as preferred site to play on. But I would not go as far as to say DraftKings is the preferred choice for DFS play right now among all players. Again I think the survey could be skewed towards a certain demographic who looks more favorably on DraftKings. Also if respondents had waited until after the announcement of DraftKings change to their terms of service and subsequent lack of questions being addressed, the preferences for both sites could have easily dropped out of favoritism.
The overall majority of DFS players do split action between FanDuel and DraftKings. This should only continue to be more prevalent going forward. The sites have different offerings related to contest type, structure and even sport so seeing this continue should be a give in.
Some key conclusions can be drawn from the above graph:
- The social aspect for why so many play season long leagues does not exist in Daily Fantasy
- For some reason DFS players care very little about deposit bonuses or the affiliate programs that exist. (more on this later)
- Volume is definitely King for DFS players. More then overlay or size of GPPs, people want options, lots of options and Cash games to choose from. This is what is going to make entry into the DFS platform so difficult. The biggest gripe with new and smaller sites is the lack of liquidity. The only way to build this is to have a robust User base that continues to play and offer action. This is something that can only be built organically.
One of the most surprising things to me was the lack of interest in a deposit bonus to draw people to a site. For a long time we heard ads from both FanDuel and DraftKings offering to double peoples money when they first deposited. This has since led to a couple court cases because the money is not doubled on initial deposit but instead needs to be cleared through play. This was a source of uneasiness for those in the DFS industry and may be a reason why we see such a low number of people finding a deposit bonus important. A shift to offering free entries into tournaments seems to be a good pivot for the DFS operators and one that is supported by this survey. The graph below says 88.5% of people who do some sort of activity to get a free entry into a GPP. This seems to be the most reasonable promotion opportunity for the industry and one where they can move away from the confusion around the deposit bonus.
Amount at Risk and Preferred Price Point for GPPs
The amount of players risking over $10,000 a week fits in nicely with the amount of respondents who also classify themselves as Pros. The majority is of course recreational players who are wagering $500 or less and most even fall under $100. These are the players that DFS operators need to continue to acquire. To be honest, they should also potentially be protected by the sites in some forms. Either through entry caps or contest caps or some other form. The use of scripts and other means of automatic entry and update will drastically reduce this population. Even if the scripts are offered to these lower buyin players, paying for the scripts will cut into a significant amount of their bankroll which means even less money coming into the actual sites for play. This will hurt everyone including the ones risking $10,000+ a week.
The GPP price points are significant. DraftKings has already made the change to having their biggest GPP tournaments offered at the $20 price point. Will we see FanDuel follow suit this NFL season? The $5 jump doesn’t seem that significant but psychologically it appears to be for first time and newer players. To draw more people into those tournaments both sites should target the $20 price point for their biggest tournaments this NFL season.
The things Players Love and Hate about DFS
The Love/Hate questions shed some light on why people play DFS and why they might not continue in the future. It is exciting, fun and engaging are the biggest reasons people play. When someone has a vested interest in a outcome, they tend to enjoy the process of watching it more. Although almost all respondents said legal sports betting would not affect their DFS play, this could be used as a reason still for why it may. It is tough to predict appetite based on speculation but I know my own personal DFS play would be affected if Sports Betting ever did become legal but apparently I am in the 2% minority on that.
The reason people hate DFS are the rake structures, unlimited GPP entries and too many sharks. The last two most likely go hand in hand as it is the sharks who are capitalizing on being able to submit unlimited entries. Again these are all things that can be controlled by the DFS operators if they so choose. It is incredibly difficult to offer the prize pools we are used to seeing while also cutting back on the amount of entries users are allowed to submit. Although it is not necessarily the large prize pools people are after, instead they are after options for GPPs and cash games and would potentially prefer to play smaller overall prize pools if it meant a cap on entries etc.
Overall the survey came at a very interesting time for the DFS industry. This will hopefully be taken into account by all of the sites as we continue to shape and mold this ever growing industry. If you participated in the survey, a big Thank you and if you would like to read it in its entirety please check it out here.