For a while now all of the news coming out from daily fantasy sports providers FanDuel and DraftKings seemed to be about the companies defending themselves against accusations and new regulations banning them in different states.
Those fights are not exactly behind them just yet, though they have begun to win some important battles, but it's understandable that both of them would want to move on from those types of stories, and start introducing new features to entice new users.
On Tuesday, DraftKings launched a new product to make its service more social. Called DraftKings Leagues, it allows players to start a league just for their friends and create fully-customizable, private contests.
Players can create a league with a custom name or use the League name generator. They can pick from 10 sports, including baseball, basketball, football, hockey, golf, NASCAR, MMA, soccer and eSports, inviting up to 200 people to join. Users can choose either a free or paid entry fee, and can determine their own payout structure.
A large part of this is about getting new users to joing, as DraftKings Leagues allows players to invite friends who aren't yet on the platform via text, e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.
"Fans have been asking for this product for months, and now it's here in time for NFL season," Paul Liberman, COO and Co-Founder at DraftKings, said in a statement. "By giving our players an exclusive experience they can fully customize just for their friends, it's like we're giving them their very own personal DraftKings."
Leagues pushes DraftKings forward in the area of social, but also in one other very important, and somewhat surprising, area: it also allows those users to run that league for a full season by making it a recurring contest with the same group of friends.
That aspect wasn't in the press release that the company put out, but it was mentioned briefly in a video accompanying the news, so many people may have missed it:
These developments follow similar moves by FanDuel earlier this month, when the company announced Friends Mode. FanDuel was more open about the change to its typical format, though, calling it, "A new way to play season-long fantasy."
"The company is introducing a new way to play season-long fantasy, bringing the best of season-long to the daily format. This newest product feature, Friends Mode, will give users the ability to play against their friends every week of the NFL season. Friends Mode will be available on the FanDuel platform (mobile and desktop) later this summer," FanDuel wrote.
"We also recognize that traditional fantasy sports is really social. So nine out of 10 people play with co-workers or friends, whereas, with daily, it's kind of the opposite, a lot of people individually too. So we're looking at ways bring in that social component so they find it easier to play with friends," he said.
However the change in format is something unexpected, though understandable. Just as pushing the social aspect will get new users onto the platform, so will going into season-long sports, which is the more traditional way that most people have played fantasy sports for years.
By offering both daily leagues, and the type of leagues that other players are used to, DraftKings and FanDuel both have an opportunity to corner the entire fantasy sports market.
It seems like calling these companies "daily fantasy sports" won't be accurate for much longer.