Application Performance Face Off: FanDuel vs. DraftKings
This weekend will be a bonanza for sports fans and for Vegas, with the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight and the Kentucky Derby both slated for Saturday. Plus with the playoffs of the NHL and NBA and fantasy baseball about to hit stride, money is flowing in the world of sports, be it gambling or fantasy.
A recent development in the world of fantasy sports is the emergence of “daily fantasy sports” or DFS sites, which allow for short-term fanstasy-style gaming. Of this category two leaders have emerged. Fanduel.com and Draftkings.com have grown rapidly, taking on massive funding rounds from major investors and inking sponsorship deals with professional sports leagues and teams. (Look for a big ol’ FanDuel logo across Mr. Mayweather’s in-ring shorts on Saturday).
So with millions riding on these companies to establish dominance of this exciting new market, what can we find in the performance of their web applications? To find out, we ran performance tests using a script to insert login credentials, so we can approximate the experience of a regular user returning to the page.
The chart above shows some of the standard performance indicators for the two sites (all measured in milliseconds). FanDuel is slightly faster out of the gate (i.e. for TTFB, or time to first byte). But as we’ve said many times, this metric doesn’t necessarily impact the end-user experience. It can affect user experience when things get really bad, but it can also be compensated for in other ways. To determine if that’s the case you’d have to look further into the rendering sequence.
In this case, FanDuel also comes out slightly better in time to display as well, which is arguably the closest approximation to what the user would consider the page being “ready”. But rather than take the numbers at face value, let’s look at the screen shots. (Apologies for the eye chart).
Here’s where we go into a more subjective realm. For FanDuel, the static portions of the page are delivered near-instantly–in the first 500 milliseconds–while the dynamic data showing options for games to play streams in much later (but still in a reasonable time frame of 4.5 seconds). DraftKings also streams in static content before the game options show up, but has a period of blank screen before a whole glut of colorful content pops into view.
So we have two pages that display within about a half second of each other, but one is heavily sequenced, the other is less so. What would you rather see: instantaneous response of simple nav elements, or a brief wait for a richer experience? The bottom line is if a user is racing to make a new fantasy lineup, he’ll get there only a few hundred milliseconds quicker with FanDuel — probably not enough to be significant — but perhaps he may feel less frustrated waiting, since there’s more of a sequential loading process.
Now let’s look at the components of the pages.
These are light pages, at just a fraction of the size of an average eCommerce page, and the two are remarkably similar in weight. While the weight of eCommerce pages is comprised mostly of images, these pages are instead majority HTML. The most interesting thing about the chart above is that FanDuel has nearly the same payload packed into 1/4 the number of requests. You can see how this plays out with the more spartan look and feel of the page: there’s a lot less going on visually.
So who wins?
FanDuel, by a hair. Their users can begin tasks slightly faster, and the experience of waiting for the page is (subjectively speaking) a little less frustrating. But both deserve credit for keeping pages light and relatively fast, considering how dynamic these pages must be to function. In fact one could argue that DraftKings scores points just for keeping it close, seeing as they have 4x more requests on the page.
The bottom line: if either ends up being able to dominate the market for DFS, it won’t be because of a major user experience advantage.