The NFL has strengthened its association with fantasy sports giant, DraftKings by entering into a partnership that will permit some of its top rated footballers to feature in DraftKings marketing campaigns. The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) was represented by its licencing and marketing wing NFL Players Inc.

Sports associations in the United States have had an ambivalent attitude towards fantasy sports for the simple reason that it is pretty much like sports betting, although it is absolutely legal in the eyes of the American law. In fact, daily fantasy sports have not been permitted to have any association with college athletics in the country, so much so that the SEC (South Eastern Conference) has banned television advertisements from DraftKings and its main rival, FanDuel on its SEC Network, which is affiliated with ESPN. The main reason is that the association will result in corruption in college sports, considering that college athletes do not get paid any money.

The NFL, however, has been edging closer to the daily fantasy sports industry. Some of the individual NFL teams have entered into partnerships with daily fantasy sports sites in very creative ways. Take the Jacksonville Jaguars, for instance. The team has signed up with FanDuel to create FanDuelVille where up to 3,000 fans of the team can enjoy hospitality while participating in special daily fantasy betting events. All but four of the 32 teams in the NFL have sponsorship deals with DraftKings or FanDuel, with each sponsorship being in the region of around $6 or $7 million.

The NFLPA’s licencing initiative with DraftKings will result in active NFL players being featured in promotional campaigns across various media. One can expect an onslaught of advertisements and promotional activities in digital, print, broadcast and also social media. Daily fantasy sports companies hike up their ad spends during the NFL season, for obvious reasons, and the ability to feature top-ranked NFL players in advertisements is a major plus for DraftKings and will help it steal a march over its competitors. Some of the best known athletes in the world are part of the NFLPA, and their inclusion in marketing campaigns will definitely increase interest in the fantasy sports industry.

Footballers are also very happy about the new licensing arrangement saying that it will benefit the fans as well as the sport. Football fans will enjoy daily fantasy sports even more than before since the business will have a high level of authenticity with the participation of actual players. In fact, this category of games becomes very interesting as a result of players bringing their individual personalities to the marketing exercise. Incidentally, the NFLPA already has another licensing deal with a daily fantasy sports company, DailyMVP in this case.

Daily fantasy sports are very popular in the United States, with more than 56 million people taking part in 2015, an impressive increase of 40% over the same period as compared to the previous year. The fan base for fantasy sports consists of people of all ages and it also includes a growing number of women. It should not come as a surprise if more such partnerships take place.

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