The Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) vertical has continued to grow and break new ground throughout 2017, and threatens to potentially eclipse those achievements next year.
For DFS providers Oulala a number of key market expansions have been announced, with the years culmination coming at the SBC Awards, where the firm scooped Best DFS Product.
Valery Bollier, CEO and co-founder of Oulala, has been speaking to SBC about 2017 and aims heading into next year, in addition to the growth of DFS and challenges posed.
SBC: 2017 has been an important year for Oulala, continuing to build upon strong foundations; could you offer a review of your year?
Valery Bollier: 2017 was an important year, both for the DFS industry and for Oulala, because our young sector entered a different stage of its growth.
The DFS market’s life cycle follows the same rules as most markets. For the first few years, the DFS sector was in its discovery phase where only a few pioneers were cemented.
The last few months of 2017 clearly showed that we are now entering the second phase of the market, that is, the extension. A number of major actors such as Sky, Paddy Power Betfair, Unibet and Betsson have entered the DFS space.
Oulala has also signed into significant partnerships with iGaming and Telco operators, including Marsbet, SafariBet, Bravio Gaming and Mobimedia. Moreover, with the growing number of hot prospects that are now willing to offer DFS to their customers, we are more than confident that 2018 will see a massive extension of DFS and of our network.
SBC: Considering the continuous vertical growth of DFS, how is Oulala strengthening its product and how much of a role does expansion, particularly into new markets, play?
VB: We launched Oulala five years ago because we had a vision that the younger generations would no longer be interested in playing games of luck against the house. A simple look at the demographics of the customer database within our industry is a clear indication that our concern was indeed correct.
However, in order to become a future leader in our space, the accurate diagnostic was merely a first step; we needed to find the winning formula, the game that would answer all of their needs with the playability that would be perfectly tailored to their evolved usage.
In this situation, the key factor to success required not using our marketing skills to convince customers to adopt our game as we had done in the past with their parents, but rather to listen to them and subsequently transform our offer accordingly based on their new expectations.
Oulala is a real skill game and a true social game, the two pillars upon which the younger generations have been raised. This is why we can say that DFS is the sports betting of the new generations.
Nonetheless, this was far from enough, and at Oulala the customer is the boss. Therefore, we will continue to adhere to our end customers’ feedback in order to adapt our product into whatever lives up to their expectations.
The remarkable thing about globalisation is that customers within the same age group generally expect to play the same type of game, wherever they may be across the globe. All things considered, it is much easier and more beneficial to keep up with the times and adapt, than to try to fight it and change it.
SBC: What market challenges does DFS face now and moving forward?
VB: The main issue we are currently facing is that a number of companies have begun to falsely claim to be offering a DFS game, when the truth is they are simply distorting the concept of DFS to offer a lottery game on football.
DFS upholds a simple but potent promise to its customers: when playing, you will be able to prove to your friends that you know the sport better than they do. However, in order to do so, our game needs to be a real skill game, not a game of luck; otherwise, just about anyone could win.
Offering DFS games that are based solely on luck means offering customers a farce and is not likely to be met with success. Rather, it may even damage the image and reputation of the DFS industry in the public’s eye.
This is why it is key for us, and for future DFS legislation all around the world, to maintain a clear separation between games that are genuinely DFS and those that are simply using the term DFS as marketing bait.
SBC: From ‘Best Fantasy Sports Product’ at the SBC awards 2016, to ‘Best DFS Product’ this time around, what does it mean to be continually recognised in this way?
VB: In new markets, it is always difficult to distinguish which are the truly serious actors. To be the recipient of the only award in Europe that recognizes the best DFS operator twice in a row clearly indicates that Oulala is on the right path.
We are still at the beginning of our journey, and we will be sure to face many great challenges in the future, however receiving this award is an incredible milestone for our entire team. It gives us even more strength to continue our entrepreneurial adventure.
SBC: What does 2018 hold for Oulala and the wider DFS community?
VB: 2018 should be the year when DFS becomes mainstream. IGaming operators are progressively beginning to see the limits of their current positioning. Optimising their offer for customers within the 40+ age range dangerously narrows their market and the problem is only growing.
Adopting DFS is, of course, not the only move required since reshaping one’s entire offer and team is also necessary, however it is a highly significant step in the process. Oulala would thus be the perfect partner.
We understand challenges operators face and we have customisable solutions that were built specifically for the industry. Oulala is creating a solid long-term bridge between the younger generations and iGaming operators.
At the SBC Awards 2017, held at the HAC Artillery Garden in London, Oulala picked up the award for Best DFS Product. The firms Business Development Director Oliver Niner collected the award from the nights hosts, sports presenter Matt Lorenzo and football legend Luis Garcia, before speaking about its importance in the video below.
Valery Bollier is set to be a panellist at SBC’s Betting on Football conference, held at Stamford Bridge, home of reigning Premier League Champions Chelsea FC, from March 20-23. On day one, Wednesday 21 March, DFS is set to be discussed in the Drake Suite from 12.05-12.50 under the heading ‘Fantasy’s last stand in Europe?’ Analysing whether the Russian World Cup offers the last big opportunity for fantasy sports to break into the European market. More details of the event can be found HERE.