Versatility the name of the game with DraftKings 1-Week CFL Fantasy

There’s one in every fantasy sports league.

You know who it is. The person that you might have invited in half out of obligation, while the rest of your office inner-circle was geeking out over the start of a new season. On the other half of that obligation, they feigned enthusiasm, created an account, put together a team and maybe in that moment had every intention of a full commitment.

Five weeks later, with a criminally neglected roster and a firm place in the league’s cellar, the groundwork has been laid for an office pariah.

That may not have been the motivating factor in DraftKings’ Leagues feature, but in being able to add, and perhaps most importantly remove players from your private leagues this year, the non-committal types of the fantasy sports world will be able to walk easier in the outside world. No harm, minimal foul.

“DraftKings introduced Leagues in August (2016). It was a little late for the launch of CFL season last year but now it’s available,” Matt Kalish, DraftKings’ Chief Revenue Officer, explained on Wednesday at the CFL’s office in Toronto.

The CFL and DraftKings announced on Wednesday that they’d extended their partnership for a second season.


“You can create a League and it’s a totally private experience from the normal DraftKings site, the public forum where you can go play these contests. This is a private room with just a few friends or it could be 200 people that you work with,” Kalish said.

“All of the games, the contests that you play are totally customizable by the people in your league. You could create for the first week of the season, a 25-person free game. You could apply an entry fee to it and apply prizes. Whatever you want, you can add.

“You can remove people from your league at any time. If you meet someone you like and they’re your new best friend you can add them in. But in the DraftKings League, it’s very flexible. If someone’s not playing, it’s no big deal. It doesn’t ruin the league if someone’s not playing. I think the flexibility around the league that you’re playing in is really valuable.”

One year in, with close to a million entries submitted, Kalish feels like his company is just getting started in its partnership with the CFL.

“We heard form the people that tried the fantasy game. We heard great things about the experience of watching the league, that it’s a fun game to watch and very familiar for a lot of NFL fans,” he said.

“I thought it was a great first year and we’re definitely also looking forward to Year 2. Sometimes I think we have to work out all the little details of partnering together with a new group of people…and things start to really click in Year 2, 3 and 4. I’m really excited that we’re coming back for the second year.”

The partnership put the CFL onto the screens of DraftKings’ 7 million users worldwide, and opened a lot of eyes outside of Canada to the game.

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“A lot of (users) were Canadian and a lot of them, it was very balanced actually in some ways between driving interest between Americans who wouldn’t have otherwise been following the league but because of the fantasy offering, they jumped in and tried it,” he said.

An 18-plus site, Kalish estimates the median age of DraftKings users to fall in the mid-30s range, which means a coveted demographic of fans is getting an in-depth exposure to the Canadian game.

“We already know that people who adopt fantasy games, they consume much more of the content. They’ll watch longer, they’ll watch all the way to the end,” Kalish said. “It’s no surprise to us to see that, but it’s nice to see that happening.”

With CFL fantasy fans returning with a year’s experience and a new season upon us – the Alouettes host the Roughriders on June 22 for the season kickoff – Kalish said he’s excited to see where the CFL and DraftKings go in 2017. He’s watched NASCAR, UFC and soccer games be introduced to the site since it launched in 2012 and sees the CFL on a similar journey.

“You have to learn how to introduce the sport, explain it to players and share a new scoring system, a new roster (CFL rosters have seven players, whereas the NFL has nine) and get people to try it,” he said. “That’s a process that we’ve done with these other sports. I think it’s similar.”

As the Leagues feature approaches its one-year anniversary, Kalish has seen it evolve quickly as well.

“What we’ve seen over that time is that the longer the leagues are run, (they) tend to get bigger. There are more contests going on, and more sports are getting added into the mix,” he said. “Hopefully we can get some of our existing leagues to throw some CFL stuff in there, too. Hopefully a lot of fans will grab a group of friends and set something up on DraftKings.”