The two sportsbooks, which together dominate the online U.S. market, will advertise within Little Caesars Arena and across the team’s digital, radio and TV properties. Terms of the deals, which were negotiated separately, were not announced.
As gambling operators scramble for customers in new legal markets, partnering with pro teams has become a popular way to reach a sports-loving crowd. Some teams have chosen a single, exclusive partner (as the Chicago Cubs did with DraftKings), while others have signed multiple deals. The New Jersey Devils, for example, started last season with four betting partners.
When is the whole worth more than the sum of its parts? Sometimes it’s a money decision—one operator might pay more for exclusive rights than two would pay for joint privileges. Other times it’s a wider calculus about what the deals might mean for fans.
That’s how the Pistons thought about it, according to chief business officer Mike Zavodsky. The team recently unveiled a new set of logos and a new online store. It’s also looking to reach younger people in the Detroit area, the same type of people that DraftKings and FanDuel target in their advertisements.
“As we look to reimagine the brand, sponsorship activation is a big driver, and they’re two of the biggest and best in the business,” Zavodsky said. “So from my standpoint, obviously there’s economics to a deal, but the activation aspect led us to cast a wider net.”
As an example, under the deal DraftKings will offer fan contests with VIP prizes, including the opportunity to sign a one-day “contract” with the Pistons, a locker room tour and a shoot-around at the team’s practice facility. FanDuel already operates the retail sportsbook at nearby MotorCity Casino, and the two will host viewing parties with giveaways on game days.
Michigan is one of the ten most populous states in the country, and when online betting launches, likely in early 2021, it will be the third-largest state with mobile sports books. It has teams in all four major U.S. leagues, plus a pair of Big Ten colleges.
The deals are non-exclusive for sports betting, meaning the team could eventually add more partners, Zavodsky said. DraftKings will be the team’s exclusive fantasy partner.