The Bropocalypse

Dec. 28, 2015
Dec. 28, 2015

Table of Contents
Dec. 28, 2015

The Lives They Led
  • From the Giant who became a broadcasting mainstay to the Moses who led Philadelphia to the promised land, from Tark the Shark to Mr. Cub to the Snake, indelible figures across a wide range of sports passed away in 2015


The Bropocalypse

Their ads were ubiquitous, but as suddenly as they had arrived, FanDuel and DraftKings ran into trouble

ON SUNDAY OF the NFL's Week 14, the 120 finalists of FanDuel's World Fantasy Football Championship filled a hotel ballroom in San Diego for a football bacchanalia. Flickering screens aired live games, celebrity hosts worked the room (Joe Montana! Dan Marino!), and staggering sums of cash (in all, $12 million in prize money) were awarded based on, in part, Blake Bortles's performance. The event was the glittering culmination of a year in which daily fantasy exploded into a billion-dollar industry. Yet you couldn't help but wonder if this was the last big bash before the lights went out.

This is an article from the Dec. 28, 2015 issue

Daily fantasy went mainstream in 2015, as commercials featuring bros boasting of winning millions off their $5 lineups became ubiquitous—FanDuel and DraftKings in one month spent more than the entire beer industry on advertising, with spots running every 90 seconds at one point—and the number of players soared. In the summer there was talk of mammoth IPOs for DraftKings and FanDuel, the two main daily fantasy operators. As recently as this fall both companies were valued at more than $1 billion. Investors included everyone from sports leagues to networks to Bob Kraft.

As quickly as it had become the entrepreneurial story of 2015, daily fantasy's arc began to resemble that of Internet poker. In October a DraftKings employee was accused of using internal data to win $350,000; the individual was cleared of wrongdoing, but the story bloomed into a full-blown national controversy, with politicians cracking down on companies they believed were illegal gambling sites exploiting a legal loophole. One minute daily fantasy was a topic during a presidential debate, the next an NFL player, Pierre Garçon, made headlines by suing FanDuel, claiming players were being exploited without compensation.

As attorneys general began investigating daily fantasy in their states, the story felt like a cautionary start-up tale: a case of too much, too soon. There will now be extensive legal proceedings and even congressional hearings. It's impossible to predict where daily fantasy goes from here. Only this is certain: In 2016 there will be—to everyone's relief—fewer of those damn commercials.


"Now women, long considered the more civilized sex, feel the need to join us louts in our crass ways? ... If women are into mixed martial arts today, what'll be their male-like misbehavior tomorrow?"

—Bud Poliquin,

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]


Sunday Million + Millionaire Maker

2014 NFL Season

2015 NFL Season









Oct. 4

Reports surface of a DraftKings employee winning $350,000 using internal data

Oct. 13

Congress calls for an FTC investigation into the daily fantasy industry

Oct. 30

Garçon files a class-action lawsuit against FanDuel on behalf of NFL players

Nov. 10

New York AG orders sites to cease accepting bets from N.Y. residents

Dec. 11

Appeals court judge allows the sites to continue operating in N.Y.—for now

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Source: Eilers Research, LLC