Do you love fantasy football but hate that pesky wait between the Super Bowl and the first week of the NFL season? Well, my friend, you are in luck! On Wednesday, the Arena Football League and DraftKings announced a partnership that will have DraftKings host AFL contests. Degenerate DFS players unite!
In a brief press release, DraftKings said:
Today, DraftKings announced that it will become the exclusive daily fantasy partner for the Arena Football League. DraftKings will launch an AFL fantasy game and will stream AFL games through our app. Both the fantasy product and streaming capabilities are expected to launch for the 2019 AFL season. Combining daily fantasy and live streaming is a powerful combination for providing compelling content for our customers. We are confident that our customers will enjoy the fast pace of AFL games and the new daily fantasy sport contests the sport allows us to offer.
Ok, so maybe I got ahead of myself a little bit. Even though the Arena Football League’s season begins this week, you are still going to have to wait for the NFL season for your daily fantasy football fix, as the AFL contests won’t be on DraftKings until next year.
The Arena Football League, though not very well known, has been around in some form since 1987. It began that year with four teams, expanding by two the next season, and seeing its league balloon to a dozen teams by its sixth season. The league peaked at 19 teams in 2001, many thanks to the success of a former Iowa Barnstormer, Kurt Warner, who came out of nowhere to become Super Bowl MVP for the St. Louis Rams. By the end of that decade, the league had run into major financial problems and did not have a 2009 season.
Things looked like they might be ok once the Arena Football League restarted, as there were anywhere from 12 to 18 teams from 2010 to 2015 (as you might be able to tell, AFL teams weren’t the most stable), but after that, teams either folded or bolted for other leagues in a hurry (the Indoor Football League and National Arena League house many of the Arena League’s former teams). Now, there are just four teams again: Baltimore, Philadelphia, Albany, and Washington.
That said, this deal with DraftKings could be a real boon to the Arena Football League. Not only will daily fantasy give the league exposure and generate interest from people who wouldn’t otherwise care about this tiny league, but the league will also get lots more eyeballs through game streaming on the DraftKings app.
The Arena Football League also announced simultaneous partnerships with Facebook (live streaming), VSiN (data-driven content), and Sportradar (data).
“The partnerships we’re announcing today give fans a whole new range of ways to get in on the action of arena football,” said Ron Jaworski, Chairman of the AFL Executive Committee and former NFL quarterback, in a separate press release. “Today, we’re bringing fans even closer to the game by giving them access to more data, creating more intensity in each individual moment of the game and introducing some cutting-edge gaming options.”