Perez is the second major media personality FanDuel has gone into business with recently, signaling its strategy to turn sports fans into bettors on its platform. Last month, the company announced an expansive agreement with former Indianapolis Colts punter and media personality Pat McAfee, whose Westwood One radio show is now replayed each night on SportsGrid.
“We spend a lot of time focusing on tracking performance of all our content initiatives,” FanDuel Vice President Adam Kaplan said. “We are going to continue to invest in talent and influencers because we’ve seen the impact they can drive.”
According to sports gambling industry news site Legal Sports Report, more than 75 percent of states have legalized sports gambling or introduced legislation to do so since the Supreme Court in 2018 overturned a law that limited most sports betting to Nevada. Before the shutdown of most sports because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, gambling operators announced a flurry of deals with sports media companies in a race to acquire customers, hoping to turn those companies’ readers and viewers into their bettors.
Gaming company Penn National acquired a stake in Barstool Sports, and William Hill entered into a partnership with CBS Sports this year. ESPN and Caesars announced plans to build a new set at a hotel in Las Vegas to produce betting content as part of a broader partnership.
“Everybody is thinking about media,” Kaplan said. “Our strategy is unique, diversified and broader than partnering with one major media company. For us, it’s about what can we own, operate, and how we can grow our reach. We are building inside-out while others are building outside-in.”
Perez is represented by Matt Olson and David Koonin at Creative Artist Agency, which also negotiated the McAfee deal. As part of his prolific digital output, Perez will continue to produce a nightly NBA show, but he said the opportunity in the new deal to expand that show with more technical production — from FanDuel and SportsGrid — was attractive.
“I have always had this vision of a late-night NBA show,” he said. “Like [David] Letterman or [Jimmy] Fallon with a monologue and prerecorded skits. I do it on Periscope now, but it’s janky. I want to revolutionize the way it’s consumed, integrating comments from viewers with the production value of linear TV.”
Perez said many of his videos will remain NBA-focused rather than gambling-focused and he will attempt to integrate FanDuel’s lines and odds in subtle ways.
“If I’m saying, ‘How’s the MVP race looking?’ I can say LeBron [James] is the favorite and then FanDuel has these odds and I can integrate that into the content,” he said. “It’s not like: ‘Come gamble, and here’s a 20 percent off ad.’ That’s cringe.”