That Arena Football League has announced a series of partnerships designed to improve fan engagement over the next two seasons, including deals with DraftKings and the Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN).
The overall goal of these partnerships is to provide a more interactive experience for AFL fans, who will now be able to play daily fantasy sports games based on the league and enjoy more league broadcasts, particularly through online streaming.
“The partnerships we’re announcing today give fans a whole new range of ways to get in on the action of arena football,” said AFL Executive Committee Chairman Ron Jaworski.
DraftKings to Develop AFL Fantasy Games
The most visible of these partnerships is likely to be the one with DraftKings. The AFL announced that DraftKings will be the league’s exclusive daily fantasy partner, though fans and players won’t see the results of this arrangement until the 2019 season. That’s when DraftKings is expected to launch an AFL fantasy game and start streaming league games in their app.
Gamblers will also be interested in the partnership with VSiN. While arena football isn’t exactly the most popular option at sportsbooks, VSiN will be able to provide fans, bettors, and operators with more information and statistics about individual players, teams, and matchups each week. As part of the agreement, VSiN will produce pregame shows and segments each week that are focused on the betting odds of AFL games. That could be a valuable addition to the AFL should the Supreme Court reach a decision that allows states to regulate sports betting.
More Arena Football Streaming, Statistics
Those gaming industry partnerships were announced alongside others that are designed to provide a more modern presentation for AFL viewers.
An agreement with Facebook will see 12 games broadcast live in the United States through Facebook Watch. Those games will also be offered internationally through the AFL page.
Meanwhile, the league is improving its presentation abilities through a partnership with Sportradar, a Swiss company that is one of the world’s leading data providers for sports organizations. The deal will see Sportradar build a new API that will allow the league to automatically distribute data and statistics to partners.
“The Arena Football League is committed to delivering a modern and engaging fan experience,” said Jason Sukhraj, Senior Vice President of Business Development for Sportradar, “and we are very pleased to be a part of that commitment.”
The new partnerships could help grow the visibility of the league once again. According to a report by SportTechie, Ted Leonsis – who owns two of the AFL’s four teams – also has significant investments in DraftKings and Sportradar through his Revolution Growth venture fund.
The AFL has been in operation for 31 seasons, with as many as 19 teams competing in the league as recently as 2007. Currently, only four teams are participating in the league: The Philadelphia Soul, which has been an AFL staple since 2004, the Baltimore Brigade and Washington Valor, which each joined last season, and the Albany Empire, which is new to the league this year. The four team format is the smallest since the original “demonstration season” for the league in 1987.