FanDuel acquires AlphaDraft to get into esports

This room is filled with people who would potentially love to play daily-fantasy esports.

Big companies are starting to see a lot of potential to make money in esports.

A day after DraftKings announced it’s expanding into esports next month with daily-fantasy games for League of Legends, competitor FanDuel is doing the same through an acquisition. The company has purchased the daily-fantasy startup AlphaDraft, which debuted earlier this year to provide a FanDuel-like experience for multiplayer online arena battlers and shooters. We’ve heard rumors of this acquisition for a few weeks — although AlphaDraft was also hearing offers from Yahoo Fantasy and even DraftKings.

Fantasy sports is a multibillion-dollar business, and daily fantasy is pushing that revenue to record highs. At the same time, the popularity of pro gaming is on the rise — and so are its earnings. FanDuel and DraftKings obviously both see this as an opportunity to get in on the ground level of what could turn into a mammoth industry over the next decade.

Former NBA Commish David Stern tells me that FanDuel has acquired @AlphaDraft, which he is invested in

— Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner) September 24, 2015

As we pointed out in our story yesterday about DraftKings’ esports ambitions, this acquisition by FanDuel is likely a move to ensure its revenues have a market that it can grow into.

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Traditional sports are massively popular right now — professional football in particular has probably never had the level of engagement that it has today. But concerns around the safety of contact sports, along with a generation of parents who are trying to grind their children into superstar with the 10,000-hour rule, has youth participation in sports like football, soccer, and basketball noticeably falling off.

If research keeps revealing that football and other physical activities will lead to brain disease, interest in these sports could erode with the participation levels over the next 10 to 20 years. And that’s where the rise of esports could make up the difference.

Tens of millions of people have tuned in to watch events like the finals for Counter-Strike, Dota 2, and League of Legends. Every competitive-gaming genre is seeing year-over-year growth in terms of viewership. Marketers and sponsors have already taken notice, and that has the esports business on a trajectory to reach more than $ 465 million in revenue by 2017. But fantasy esports could have the potential to push this market to $ 1 billion and well beyond.

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