ESPN wants in on gambling

A deal with DraftKings could help the brand maintain relevance with young fans.

ESPN has long called itself the worldwide leader in sports, but thanks to a shifting sports media landscape, that nickname no longer rings true.

Young fans increasingly get their sports information from social media, and rather than just watch games, many are betting on them.

It appears ESPN wants in on the action. Last week, chairman Jimmy Pitaro confirmed the brand is mulling a deal with DraftKings, per Axios.

What kind of deal?

The companies already have a marketing deal in place that includes links to DraftKings’ sportsbooks from ESPN’s website. A licensing agreement would take that to the next level:

  • DraftKings could use the ESPN name, and integrate its bet odds on ESPN broadcasts for wider audience exposure.
  • ESPN could offer tighter integration with DraftKings’ sportsbook to eliminate friction for its betting audience.

But don’t expect to be able to gamble on ESPN’s properties…

… at least not yet

Disney has long forbidden casinos on its cruise ships, and has refused to license its characters on slot machines, per Fortune.

But the company seems to be warming up to sports gambling.

  • Disney acquired a stake in DraftKings when it took over 21st Century Fox in 2019.
  • CEO Bob Chapek recently admitted that gambling has become a big part of the sports lifestyle for younger fans.

Perhaps an ESPN-branded sportsbook at Epcot Center isn’t far off.

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