A press release appeared on the Devils’ official website today that announced FanDuel as “the exclusive official daily fantasy partner and an official sports betting partner of the NHL” and, by extension, the Devils. The deal with the Devils was “FanDuel’s first agreement in the sports betting category with an NHL team.”
The release said that the NHL”s agreement with FanDuel will give opportunities to “its daily fantasy customers access to exclusive NHL content and special prizing, such as VIP experiences to NHL tentpole events like the NHL Winter Classic and the NHL All-Star Game.”
FanDuel will have “free-to-enter single game fantasy contests for the NHL Winter Classic, NHL Stadium Series and other marquee matchups throughout the NHL season.” In addition, the press release notes that FanDuel will work with “the NHL in the sports betting category, including use of official category designations, in a variety of ways to appeal to sports betting customers in legal jurisdictions” (which includes New Jersey).
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said basically that the NHL is trying to be “progressive” in its approach to sports betting and that FanDuel was a good brand to align with. Matt King, CEO of FanDuel Group, for his part, said that because the NHL was trying to be progressive in this field, FanDuel felt comfortable dealing with them.
The FanDuel/NHL partnership will be introducing a “Skate tothe NHL Winter Classic” contest giving eligible fans a chance “to win a VIP trip to the 2019 NHL Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins at Notre Dame Stadium on New Year’s Day.”
You can debate whether Devils fans would actually be interested in seeing Chicago and Boston in the Winter Classic, one way that this will impact their team more directly is the “separate agreement with the New Jersey Devils.” With this agreement, FanDuel will have in-ice logos “utilizing one of the newly avaialbe advertising positions introduced earlier this year by the NHL” i.e. those below the goal line ads that are new on NHL rinks this season. There will be “integrated social, digital and in-game activation platforms” which “will allow FanDuel to highlight its popular “Live In-Play” betting options available on the company’s new FanDuel Sportbook app, among other branding and messaging.”
In the new world of sports betting that we live in, the NHL and Devils getting in on this ahead of the curve is a good thing. Hopefully, the sports betting thing at the Prudential Center does not get too overwhelming. As a fan who does not bet, I do not really feel like being bombarded by sports betting ads and “branding” left and right. If done somewhat subtly, this could be a good way to appeal to fans who want to partake and engage in the game this way without being too overbearing for the rest of us.
That being said, I do not think that Gary Bettman’s theory that sports betting will help attract people who have never watched hockey to suddenly become fans. Nobody in their right mind would bet on a sport that they are not familiar with, after all.