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DraftKings and FanDuel close in on massive new investments

April 6, 2015, 5:43 PM UTC

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that DraftKings, a Boston-based real money fantasy sports site, had raised $250 million in new funding from The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) — whose properties include ESPN — at a valuation of around $900 million. It added that, as part of the deal, DraftKings “has committed to spend large sums of advertising dollars – just north of $500 million – on ESPN’s platforms in coming years.”

You might recall that we originally discussed the Disney/DraftKings talks last month, and that we previously reported how rival site FanDuel also was in talks for its own new round of funding. So a bunch of notes about all of this:

1. The DraftKings deal is not yet done. It’s very, very close, but final paperwork has not been signed. There also is a remote possibility that Friday’s leak will have an impact, particularly if Disney feels it’s getting too much flak for morphing into America’s most family-friendly gambling company.

2. My understanding is that the $500 million advertising commitment begins in 2015, and runs through the end of 2018 (i.e., around 3.5 years). It also will include all sorts of integration with ESPN content (particularly TV broadcasts), and basically means that rival FanDuel will no longer advertise on ESPN once its existing 2015 commitments run out (currently, around 10% of FanDuel’s ad spend is with ESPN). What remains a bit unclear, however, is how DraftKings can make such a huge financial commitment given that it reportedly generated just around $30 million in 2014 revenue (although it only really needs to come up with $250m, if you subtract the new Disney investment).

3. FanDuel also hasn’t finished up its new round, but it is extremely close. Sources tell me that existing investor Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) will lead the deal, which will come with a post-money valuation of around $1.5 billion (or perhaps just a hair shy, depending on the final investment figure).

4. No comment on any of this from DraftKings, Disney, KKR nor FanDuel.

5. The most surprising part about all of this remains the absence of Yahoo (YHOO) — which currently has more fantasy sports players than anyone on the planet (yet barely monetizes them). It has not held investment nor acquisition talks with either DraftKings or FanDuel. Does it plan to move into this space on its own, ignore it completely or pick a target once they’re both worth $2 billion?

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