FanDuel is doubling down on its relationship with the WNBA with a multiyear partnership extension; the gaming operator will be one of the league’s official sportsbook partners as well as its official daily fantasy partner. The renewal, happening five years after FanDuel first partnered with the WNBA, comes as the sportsbook prepares for the launch of its sports betting-focused cable television network and its OTT counterpart FanDuel+.
As part of the deal, FanDuel will gain rights to air WNBA highlights within its sportsbook and fantasy sports platforms starting with the 2023 season. The sportsbook will also have access to footage rights across FanDuel TV and FanDuel+, which notable as it builds out programming for both. In addition, FanDuel, which operates sportsbooks in 19 states plus Washington, D.C. and claims approximately 17 million customers, will be able to feature WNBA branding marks across its platforms, as well as in retail and online sports betting.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“We are tangibly acting to elevate female athletes and one important way to do that is growing strategic partnerships with an organization that is the true pioneer in the space—the WNBA,” Amy Howe, CEO of FanDuel Group, said in a statement. “This new deal allows FanDuel to build and promote a true sports ecosystem around women’s professional basketball.”
FanDuel betting odds will also be featured on select WNBA digital channels in future seasons.
The extension announcement comes in the middle of a WNBA postseason that has seen significant upticks in viewership. Seattle Storm great Sue Bird’s final game, a season-ending semifinal clash against the WNBA Finals-bound Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday, rang in as the second most-watched WNBA postseason game ever on ABC.
The playoff ratings come on the heels of a successful 2022 regular season, which was the league’s most-watched in 14 years. Regular-season viewership across the WNBA’s television partners (which include Disney’s ABC, ESPN and ESPN2, as well as CBS) jumped 16% from 2021.
FanDuel said betting activity around the 12-team WNBA has mirrored those spikes, with this summer’s season drawing “significant interest” at the sportsbook’s retail locations, which saw a 270% spike in bet count and 101% increase in handle wagered year over year.
“Fans are seeking more ways to engage with our game, and FanDuel has been a great partner in growing their offering to meet that demand, as shown by our partnership renewal,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said.
Sportsbook operators have pursued partnerships beyond the league itself. Market access deals between sportsbooks and individual WNBA franchises have become an increasingly common source of revenue for clubs. The Phoenix Mercury, for example, has a wide-ranging 15-year agreement with Bally’s Corp that is reportedly worth about $66 million.
BetMGM is also an official partner of the W. PointsBet had also joined as the WNBA’s third authorized gaming operator in 2021 in a one-year deal, its first with a women’s professional sports league. The league’s roster of corporate partners—which encompassed a record number of sponsors this year—also includes AT&T, Deloitte, Nike, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Google and U.S. Bank.