Comcast-backed FanDuel Quadruples Revenue

Just four months after attracting a $70 million round of financing from a handful of media investors, including NBC Sports Ventures and Shamrock Capital Advisors, fantasy sports startup FanDuel more than quadrupled its revenue in the fourth quarter, reporting sales of $36.8 million.

Privately held FanDuel announced the quarterly financials on its website. Founded in 2009, the fantasy sports league site has grown annual revenue from $1.2 million in 2011 to $57.3 million in 2014.

The fourth quarter performance was four times the $8.8 million in revenue FanDuel generated in the third quarter and five times the $7.4 million it generated in the fourth quarter of 2013.

FanDuel also nearly doubled its number of "paid actives" (its paid user base) in the quarter to 1.01 million from 519,310 in the third quarter.  

FanDuel claims to control about 80% of the daily fantasy sports market, which it valued at about $4 billion. Along with its chief competitor – private equity-backed DraftKings – the companies allow customers to compete in daily or weekly tournaments, instead of the season-long leagues normally associated with the genre. Players compete for cash prizes. In the fourth quarter, FanDuel said it awarded $333.9 million in prizes and says it has paid out about $600 million in prizes to date.   

Comcast Ventures, the venture capital arm of Comcast, was one of FanDuel’s first investors, as part of a group that included Pentech Ventures and Bullpen Capital, which pumped $11 million into the company in 2013.

In September, a group of existing and additional investors, including NBC Sports Ventures, Shamrock Capital Advisors (the investment arm of the Roy E. Disey family) and venture capital legend Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, invested a total of $70 million in the company.

Fantasy leagues are gaining in popularity, especially single-day and weekly sites that more resemble gambling. FanDuel got an added boost in November when it reached a four-year deal with the National Basketball Association to be the only daily fantasy site on the NBA website. The NBA also is an investor in FanDuel.

While Comcast was in on the ground floor with FanDuel, other cable properties have been eyeing the sector, including ESPN. According to a report in Sports Business Journal earlier this month, ESPN is weighing a move into the segment as early as next football season.

DirecTV, with its exclusive National Football League package NFL Sunday Ticket, also is reportedly looking into a possible partnership and launched a Fantasy Sports channel (DirecTV Fantasy Zone) in 2014.