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DraftKings tightens mixed martial arts grip with Kountermove acquisition

TAGs: daily fantasy sports, DraftKings, kountermove, kountermove fantasy mma

draftkings-acquire-kountermove-fantasy-mmaDaily fantasy sports operator DraftKings has made an effort to change its negative narrative by acquiring mixed martial arts fantasy operator Kountermove Fantasy MMA.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Kountermove’s estimated 30k registered users have already found themselves redirected to the DraftKings site and asked to transfer their accounts.

DraftKings cofounder Matt Kalish told MMAjunkie that he expects an additional 5k paid users to migrate to the DraftKings platform to take advantage of the larger MMA prize pools.

DraftKings, which already has an exclusive partnership with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, said it was excited about expanding its combat sports offering. Kountermove, which became the first MMA DFS site when it launched in 2011, also offers DFS contests on non-MMA dustups like boxing, kickboxing and jiu jitsu.

Kountermove CEO Brian Knapp said the deal represented the “perfect culmination of our earliest vision” of “hoping to contribute to the sport in some meaningful way.” Knapp said his group had “gotten to know the DraftKings team” since the latter site launched its first MMA contests in 2014 and looked to them “as a partner for growing the overall space of MMA.”

DraftKings has now pretty much cornered the DFS MMA market. Rival FanDuel has chosen to offer a more limited DFS menu, in part over concerns that some sports (golf, NASCAR) may violate the fantasy sports carveout of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, but also because many of these sports are DFS niche markets.

Whatever its effect on DraftKings’ bottom line, Thursday’s acquisition at least marks a positive story in a week that has been largely negative for the company and DFS in general. The week saw DraftKings make an awkward exit from its pricey marketing deal with ESPN while 21st Century Fox publicly announced that its DraftKings stake had lost 60% of its value in six months.

Things weren’t much better for FanDuel, which was forced to lay off most of the staff at its Florida offices while both companies got taken to the woodshed by PBS’ Frontline investigative series and some influential California tribes offered a broadly negative public opinion on the state’s DFS regulatory push.

Meanwhile, the past two Fridays have brought negative news from financial firms looking to cut their ties to DFS. Will this Friday prove any less freaky? Watch this space…

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