ESPN, DraftKings on the verge of a sports betting deal - report

Disney’s ESPN may have a deal in the works with DraftKings to enhance its sports betting options, per last week’s Bloomberg report.

The terms and details of the partnership are as-yet unknown, but unnamed sources told the outlet ESPN wants to capitalize on the growing popularity of legalized sports betting.

It wouldn’t be the first time the companies have worked together. In September 2020, ESPN tapped DraftKings as the sports network’s exclusive daily fantasy sports provider. DraftKings, along with Caesar’s Entertainment, became ESPN’s sportsbook link-out providers, meaning external links to their sites are integrated in ESPN’s website.

“Licensing EPSN’s brand to a sports book and integrating bet odds in broadcasts could help both companies widen their audiences,” noted Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Brian Egger and Geetha Ranganathan.

DraftKings recently garnered attention when it was selected as a sponsor for the NFL’s Thursday Night Football – hosted by Amazon Prime Video. The sportsbook is Amazon’s exclusive pregame and in-game odds provider for TNF matches.

ESPN has previously broached the subject of getting more involved with sports gambling. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro told The Athletic in June sports betting is “pretty much a ‘must-have’” for the company, as it’s something ESPN sports fans are expecting.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek last month shed some light on ESPN’s sports betting plans, saying a link-out to an ESPN-branded sports betting site would have “a very positive impact on the brand equity for ESPN.”

It’s unlikely ESPN will ever offer sports betting directly on its network, as Chapek pointed out in a recent CNBC interview.

“Now we’re going to need a partner to do that, because we’re never going to be a book, that’s never in the cards for the Walt Disney Company,” Chapek said to CNBC’s David Faber.

Disney also aims to build up ESPN on the streaming side. ESPN+’s subscription price increased from $6.99 per month to $9.99 per month in August. Disney said the price hike “is part of an established plan to ensure ESPN+ is a profitable and strong long-term business.”

As sports betting continues to gain traction in the media space, FuboTV is another company that wants to get in on the action. Though the virtual MVPD recently abandoned plans to build a sports betting service on its own, Fubo has said it’s looking for a third-party partner to help integrate sports betting into the FuboTV platform.