DraftKings launches Leagues so you can play daily fantasy sports with friends

DraftKings has been in the news a lot over the last 12 months. But almost everything you’ve read has probably been about their efforts in passing legislation to explicitly legalize daily fantasy sports – an industry that had sort of an identity crisis a year ago when state governments around the nation decided they weren’t sure exactly how to regulate it.

And now that the legalization issue is seemingly under control (New York, the de-facto leader in sports and gaming legislation, finally passed a law legalizing the industry) the company is trying to shift its attention back to improving the core product and user experience.

So today DraftKings is launching Leagues, a feature to make it easier to play daily fantasy sports with your friends.

To understand the significance of Leagues it’s helpful to first understand the different between DraftKing’s daily fantasy sports product, and traditional fantasy sports.

Traditional fantasy sports have been a thing for decades – and consist of a group of people each drafting a team of professional players at the beginning of the season, and keeping that team throughout the season. In comparison, daily fantasy sports have surged in popularity only over the past few years (due to big players like DraftKings and FanDuel) and are only day-long contests – you draft a new team each time you want to play a game.

Traditional fantasy sports are inherently a social experience – you do it with a group of good friends and it’s a reason to stay in touch throughout the season. Daily fantasy sports on the other hand are typically played with strangers, and are really more about winning money than spending time with friends.

But DraftKings gets that the social element is important to the company’s growth, so is launching Leagues.

Here’s how it works:

You can create a league of any size with friends, coworkers, or even your Twitter followers. Friends accept and join the league, and then you can create private contests exclusive to friends in your league. Essentially you can get the same thrill of daily fantasy sports while maintaining the social atmosphere that a season-long league provides.

Leagues are sports-agnostic, and any of the 10 sports available on DraftKings can be used to create a contest within a league. The company also lets users create contests of any prize amount (including free), and decide how the winners will split the entry fees.

And DraftKings also has a reoccurring contest mode, so it could automatically create an NFL contest every Sunday, just accessible to friends in your league.

Leagues is the kind of feature that could change the entire fantasy sports experience for a hard-core group of sports lovers, but could also be meaningless to the average user who just wants to compete within a global pool of users. If you’re reading this and immediately thinking of friends to start a league with, or thinking how it could replace your boring old season-long NFL fantasy league, then you know what I mean. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then you can probably move on.

But that’s also another reason for DraftKings launching Leagues. The company knows that at least some hardcore users will have friends they want to invite to their league that aren’t yet DraftKings users, meaning the feature could help them signup and onboard users. It’s easy to look past a daily fantasy sports commercial telling you to sign up, but ignoring your best friend’s email to play? Not so much.

The feature launches today (just in time for the NFL season) and because of the daily nature of the game users can create a league at any time, even if it’s after the season starts.