FanDuel’s new March Madness game lets casual fans pick teams instead of players

Over the last year or so daily fantasy sports companies like FanDuel and DraftKings have shifted their focus towards building products that are simple enough for even casual sports fans to play.

Today FanDuel is announcing their latest product designed for casual sports fans, called Bracket Pick’em. The game is dead simple – users pick five NCAA teams at the start of the March Madness, and the longer those teams stay in the tournament the more points users get.

Of course there is some weighting build in – so you couldn’t just pick five of the top ranked teams. Instead, the combined sum of your five teams has to equal 20 or more, and points will be awarded based on team seed and round, so wins by lower seeds and wins later in the tournament will be worth more points.

For example, you could draft four #1 seeds and one #16 seed, or four #3 seeds and one #8 seed team. Any combination of five teams works as long as their combined seeds add up to 20 or more.

All games will be free, but FanDuel is giving away $25,000 total in cash prizes to winners.

Daily fantasy sports companies have had issues in the past with college games due to strict NCAA rules on using teams’ and player’s names and likeness. This game is the first time FanDuel has released an NCAA-focused game since the platform agreed to suspend all college contests in 2016.  The company said there wasn’t any discussion with the NCAA regarding this new game. “We felt [a conversation] was unnecessary as Bracket Pick’em is unrelated to our DFS offerings. It’s free and focuses on the teams in the tournaments, not drafting a fantasy lineup with NCAA players“, explained FanDuel.

Bracket Pick’em is the first time FanDuel has released a game that lets users pick teams instead of players. Spending time researching and drafting players is too complex and time consuming for casual fans, and if these companies want to scale they’re going to need to appeal to a much wider range of users with games like these.

There’s no arguing that playing fantasy games while watching professional sports improves the fan experience. The key is just figuring out how to build games that appeal to both die hard sports fans and the average person who only tunes into sports for the big games like playoffs and finals games.