ESPN Sportsbook Licencing Negotiations
Long-standing cable television sports giant ESPN is set to branch out into the world of online gambling following a recent slump in viewers. It is thought that Disney (the 80% owner of ESPN) will be able to recoup losses, attract a younger audience and push the famous sports network back to the top of the leaderboard by licensing its name and brand to online sportsbook operators.
What’s the Deal?
First founded in 1979, ESPN is a popular sports media company best known for its cable channel and subscription services. ESPN President James Pitaro has continually made changes since 2018, when he first took over the job from John Skipper and the channel was acquired by Walt Disney. Owing to a decline of nearly one-quarter of its viewership in a decade (in part due to the rise of streaming services), ESPN has begun negotiations with well-known operators including DraftKings and Caesars Entertainment to enter into the sportsbook betting arena. It has also been stated that ESPN considered buying out or partnering with Rush Street Interactive, another prominent online casino and sportsbook operator. The ESPN network aims to license its brand to a sportsbook operator and change the focus of its service to encompass both sports betting and live streaming.
What are the Benefits?
The most obvious benefit posed by ESPN’s sportsbook licensing is financial – while the sports network’s monthly subscription fee traditionally served as a reliable source of revenue for Disney, a drop-off in subscriptions and cable television viewers has led to a significant decline. It is said that licensing the ESPN brand to an operator such as DraftKings or Caesars Entertainment could see the network generate a whopping $3 billion over several years.
Another key benefit of the switch to the sportsbook is that online betting is an intrinsic part of the overall experience for many fans today. Enabling sports lovers to enjoy live streaming and live wagering will significantly impact the thrilling element of watching the beautiful game, while Disney CEO Bob Chapek has pointed out that sportsbook betting appeals to a younger audience and attracts a wider demographic than cable TV.
The move towards the sportsbook model suggests a more versatile and user-friendly approach inspired by the increasing popularity of live online betting and casino gaming. In the same way that casino players have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to finding the best USA no deposit casinos, sports fans can now choose how they want to engage and interact with live games, instead of just watching them on a paid screen.
A Disney/ESPN Sports Betting Platform?
OK, so while a dedicated sports betting platform is probably the last thing you expected from a Disney company, the public generally seems to view ESPN and its owner as separate entities. This means that, while the ESPN sportsbook element could be potentially problematic in the context of the cuddly core values of Disney, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue for the respective fans.
What Does This Mean for ESPN?
It is uncertain what the future holds for Disney and ESPN. Although the cable television channel has seen a significant drop-off in users in recent years, there will always be old-school fans who continue to sit down in front of the box to catch the big game – nevertheless, there’s no denying that the sportsbook element could widen the appeal of the ESPN network and even make up for some of the recent financial losses suffered. With the continuing evolution and improvement of the ESPN app, it is likely that the network will continue to undergo many changes, makeovers, and updates necessary to stay relevant in the marketplace, whatever they may be. Watch this space…..