Move over, ESPN. DraftKings has launched a new sports news and data app for its core fantasy sports fans. It’s one of the ways that the company plans to keep growing even as the fever pitch for daily fantasy sports comes back down to Earth in the wake of various legal challenges over whether in constitutes illegal gambling.
The app is a one-stop shop for NFL and fantasy sports data, with real-time feeds that the fantasy sports enthusiasts crave. Corey Gottlieb, vice president of new media and content, demoed the app at the Techcrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco on Monday. Boston-based DraftKings recently raised $150 million from Revolution Capital to fuel its expansion.
DraftKings was was founded in 2012 and it expanded rapidly as the daily fantasy sports market exploded. Seeking to get ahead of rival FanDuel, the company advertised heavily on TV, triggering various attorneys general to investigate the legality of “skill-based” fantasy sports betting. The legal rulings continue to grind forward, even as rivals such as Yahoo and ESPN — which both have real-time news in their fantasy apps — move into the market. And DraftKings is now moving in on their territory with its own expansion.
I interviewed Gottlieb at the Techcrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco on Monday. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.
GamesBeat: Did you have any big announcements on stage today?
Corey Gottlieb: There were two presentations. Jason Robins, our CEO, spoke this morning and did a full Q&A. Then Jason and I did a demo of our new app, DK Live. This is our digital equivalent of the Red Zone. It’s an app we want our users to use as a second screen when they’re consuming live games on TV. It delivers everything from customized highlight feeds to individual game play by play to breaking news and analysis. Pretty much every touch point that would be relevant to you as a fantasy user while you’re watching games on TV.
GamesBeat: How does this fit in the larger context of DraftKings history? How often are you releasing something like this?
Gottlieb: This is a major initiative toward the goal of becoming a sports entertainment company. We want to take advantage of the relationship we have with fantasy users, who we know are highly engaged sports fans. They’re consuming lots of content in real time as they watch games.
One of the experiences we want to expand on is delving more into a range of touch points beyond just drafting lineups. Where do users consume news? Where do they consume stats? How do they track their players in games? Where do they watch video? All those things are a fundamental part of how I consume as a sports fan. We feel like we can take advantage of our relationship with the fantasy consumer to deliver that stuff, as well as being the destination for drafting your lineups.
GamesBeat: Daily fantasy sports had its big hiccup. How do you put that in context? What’s been happening ever since the issues with the Attorney General and so on?
Gottlieb: This is something we would have done regardless. For DraftKings to grow, we all want to focus on how we shift into the world of sports media consumption. This was on our radar, growing as a content provider and becoming relevant in this space—I was brought in to help pioneer this well before anything happened that you’re describing. Our expansion into this world is a natural growth point for us, agnostic of anything else happening in the industry.
GamesBeat: Today, at least, you don’t want to be in ESPN’s shoes because of an outage with its fantasy app on the first Sunday of NFL season. But is the strategy to become something like that someday?
Gottlieb: I don’t think it’s necessarily about being anybody. It’s about creating great experiences for our users that are natural fits, naturally peripheral to what they’re already doing as fantasy users. It’s less about who we can compete with or which components of the industry we can disrupt, more about what would be a great add-on for our users as they become more loyal to us.
If you think about drafting a lineup as the innermost circle, and then consider the circles that ripple out from there, sports media consumption ripples out naturally. It’s less a consciousness of who we’re competing with and more a consciousness of the greatest value add for our users.
GamesBeat: What’s the state of your core business, daily fantasy? Is it becoming harder to do at the scale you guys have reached?
Gottlieb: Here’s a good example. Week one of the NFL season, that’s like Christmas for us, or Black Friday. Week one, with private leagues – the things where people just say, “Hey, let’s play together,” which are rarely where we see a lot of growth coming – that was triple what it was in the first week of the season last year. As we continue to evolve as a company, we’ve learned that a big emphasis our users want is just playing with their friends. That’s the number one thing. It’s social for them.
We introduced this leagues product for them a few weeks ago that makes it easier for people to form a league with their friends. That’s skyrocketed. It’s a sign that we’re headed in the right direction.