Sports gaming company DraftKings released a study earlier this month polling citizens on the upcoming return of sports. Unsurprisingly, a majority said they were ready to welcome back the major pro leagues.
With the NHL and NBA returning to action in neutral-site “bubbles” and baseball starting in fanless stadium, 78 percent of over 1,000 respondents to the survey said they were ok with spectator sports coming back without some of the traditional aspects of attendance.
A greater number said that they missed sports during the coronavirus-forced shutdowns a lot (56 percent) or a little (28 percent).
The Boston-based company released the findings last week. 1,000 self-identifying NJ sports betting fans, among other cities, were polled, along 250 who didn’t consider themselves sports fans. The survey focused on consumption habits from viewing and attending and did not ask about any wagering.
“With over half of respondents having reported missing sports during the resultant hiatus, fans across the country are inarguably eager for the return of their favorite leagues and teams, albeit with largely adjusted expectations as exemplified by our latest findings,” said Matt Kalish, co-founder and president, DraftKings North America, in a statement. “By deepening our understanding of the American fan through data and leveraging the technology of our platform, we are better able to adjust and serve the new experience of sports fans throughout the U.S.”
While 84 percent of respondents claimed they were concerned about COVID-19 before the leagues starting to shut down in mid-March, 56 percent said these stoppages led them to take the outbreak “more seriously”.
59 percent said the lack of games allowed them to focus on non-sports related television and movies, while 53 percent said they were able to spend more time with family and friends.
Without traditional North American fare, fans didn’t completely go hungry. Over one in four surveyed found new forms of competition to follow like esports (40 percent), international soccer (32 percent), and MMA (30 percent). 67 percent said they’ll continue to follow those new sports after the Big 4 return.
Most fans are ready for the return of sports but most think it’s too soon (39 percent) versus the right time (34 percent). The rise in cases in many states has been cause for alarm, with some athletes suggesting the timing is not right and a few opting not to play their respective seasons out of concerns for the chance of catching coronavirus.
As of now, games will be played in empty arenas and stadiums. As for the NFL, the league is allowing franchises to follow local guidance. Respondents were mixed about when they’d be comfortable attending games live.
Of the six options offered in the survey, the most popular was 4-6 months from now (24 percent), followed by until there’s a “cure” for COVID-19 (20 percent), and 0-3 months (19 percent). A majority of correspondents did agree that live attendance created concerns, like social distancing and other fans not wearing masks.
Despite the stoppage of most North American sports from the coronavirus pandemic, DraftKings has done arguably the best among major gaming companies. They have expanded operations to new states, rolled out new content from Freeplay pools to NJ online casino games, and even successfully launched their IPO.
And now introducing… the DraftKings MMA Million!
In the first major live sports event since going public, DraftKings has a big offer for fans. For UFC 249 this Saturday from Jacksonville, the pioneers of daily fantasy are offering a million-dollar prize pool, their biggest on a single MMA card.
DraftKings MMA Million – UFC 249 Contest
- $20 is the entry fee for the contest.
So those who have been waiting for “legitimate competition” or have been doing well in the freeroll events might want to get involved.
- Top prize among the 58,823 entrants is $200,000
New players can get involved too.
The standard $3 freeroll ticket with an initial deposit has been replaced with the $20 ticket for this special contest.
Greg Ehrenberg is DraftKings’ MMA DFS analyst.
On Thursday, he noted the DFS field is busy, despite the lack of traditional events. While many wonder if there should be a PPV in Florida during the lockdown, he believes the fans are ready to get involved.
“A lot of people are playing stuff like Korean baseball, which takes place overnight here,” he said. “As long as the event happens, there’s going to be a DFS contest.”
He expects the competition to sell out.
After a couple days of KBO, does anybody else feel like they are fluent in Korean?
— Greg Ehrenberg (@gehrenbergdfs) May 6, 2020
UFC 249 is going on despite major concerns about travel and safety from the shutdowns.
The evening will go on without lightweight champion Khabib Nuragomedov, who was slated to defend his belt against Tony Ferguson. Instead, Justin Gaethje will enter the main event for the title.
DraftKings DFS Contest – How To Play
For those who have done DFS for other sports but not combat, it’s a bit different.
- Pick six of the 24 fighters on the card for Saturday’s event with a $50,000 salary cap.
- Fighters earn points for strikes, takedowns, advances, and other moves in the match.
- However, there are more points available for quicker finishes so it’s key to weigh those objectives before selecting a lineup.
Ehrenberg recommended players who aren’t familiar with MMA DFS should first check the odds on DK’s sportsbook. Usually, the DFS prices match up with the betting lines. Players should look at who might get an early finish.
“A lot of times you’ll find value in terms of where a fighter has a better chance of winning, in terms of the odds they had earlier in the week,” Ehrenberg said. “Odds can swing during the week and sometimes the underdog in a bout when odds are released can become the favorite by the time the fighters enter the octagon.”
Even with the man who scared away Connor McGregor off the card, there are some recognizable names on Saturday’s lineup. Bantamweight champ Henry Cejudo will defend his title against Dominic Cruz. Former NFL standout Greg Hardy will open the PPV slate at heavyweight, while fan-favorite, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone headlines the prelims.
When asked for a “sleeper pick,” Ehrenberg picked Yorgan De Castro, Hardy’s opponent at heavyweight. Hardy is still green in MMA despite his 5-2 record.
Castro isn’t giving up much weight but is 5 inches shorter. He could possibly get in on the former defensive end and control the match at short-range.
- As an underdog, this could be the most noteworthy upset of the night.
- Ehrenberg thinks De Castro could win by KO to move his UFC record to 7-0.
— DK Live (@dklive) May 6, 2020