Matt King: bringing sports viewing and wagering into the 21st century

FanDuel CEO Matt King recently became the first guest to take the mic recently on the ‘SBC Leaders Podcast’, broadcast on GamblingTV – a  podcast series that gets to know the people driving global gaming’s biggest developments. 

Speaking to Kelly Kehn, SBC’s global relationships director, King discussed his approach to FanDuel’s ambitions to become US wagering’s dominant mass-market player – developing a comprehensive strategy to overcome multi-state operating complexities within a rapidly changing nascent marketplace.

Appointed by Flutter Entertainment in 2017 to lead FanDuel’s wagering charge post-PASPA, King recounted his first days as company leader seeking to establish FanDuel’s wagering identity against a tidal wave of glorified market projections, media hype and constant competitor speculation.

Though established as the US market’s leading DFS operator, King recalled how FanDuel had to restructure its entire product cycles and operational frameworks to accommodate for unknown challenges as US states began to take up their initial wagering regulations.

“In the early days of any marketplace, you forget that the easiest innovations are getting the basics right,” King stated. “Is it easy for the customer to sign-up, is it easy for them to place their first bets and can they follow what’s going on?”

“Our focus was on education, so our innovations were not sexy. Our goal was simply to make sure that we delivered the best first-time wagering experience for all customers”.

By ‘getting the basics right’, King said that FanDuel has secured the footpath to lead the next stage of product innovations for US wagering – which he believes will differ radically to any previous innovation cycles witnessed before by the sports betting industry.

“I think that we are here to bring sports viewing and wagering into the 21st century,” he remarked. “Our mission is to bring in sports fans from the sidelines and engage them with their favourite sport, just like they have been accustomed to with other digital products”.

“If you look at video games and social media platforms, the user has allowed them to personalize their product and offerings to better suit their own preferences… this should be no different for sports betting which at the moment is a static experience for the customer”.

On a personal level, King revealed that he considers himself “a sports media geek over being a sports fan” –  a trait that has helped him as FanDuel chief executive observing the tribal dynamics of US sports and its emotional engagement with fans.

Mirroring sports betting, King noted that sports media is facing a cycle of generational challenges in which stakeholders must move away from traditional thinking.

“It’s interesting to track the disruption going on across the media landscape. People talk about ‘ratings being down and equate it to young people not watching live sports’…I take the opposite view.

“People of all generations care about sports, however, younger audiences don’t want to consume sports in a passive manner sitting in front of the TV for three hours – they want shorter intervals and access across all platforms.

“This is a great opportunity for FanDuel, which I think can develop in sport’s new ecosystem, where younger generations want instant experiences and to connect with other sports fans… something radically different to traditional formats.” 

FanDuel is a member of SBC Leaders, a membership of top tier global operators and operator associations formed with a mission to bring the industry’s best together in order to share ideas, collaborate on major issues, push innovation, and elevate the overall image of our industry through the promotion of its achievements.