ESPN is allegedly exploring to license its brand to major sports-betting companies in a deal worth at least $3 billion over several years.
The Disney-owned media giant has held talks with “players that own major sportsbooks,” supposedly including Caesars Entertainment and DraftKings, reports The Wall Street Journal. ESPN has existing marketing partnerships with both companies.
According to anonymous sources cited by the prestigious newspaper, the company is willing to capitalize on the fast-growing online gambling industry, and the chosen partner could use the ESPN name for branding purposes and potentially rename its sportsbook after the sports TV network.
Moreover, a potential deal could come “with an exclusive marketing commitment that would require the sports betting firm to spend a certain amount of money advertising on ESPN’s platforms”, further adds the cited news source.
A deal hasn’t been reached yet and there are “no guarantees” that this will happen: so far, ESPN is allegedly waiting to see if there is interest from sports-betting companies in paying for the brand’s name.
As ESPN has already started including betting-related content into some shows, podcasts and telecasts, including “Daily Wager”, the proposed deal would mark a next step for the company within the industry. However, the media group remains adamant in avoiding being directly involved in gambling transactions, according to WSJ.
“DraftKings speaks to a variety of companies regarding various matters in the normal course of business and it is our general policy not to comment on the specifics of those discussions,” a representative for DraftKings told The New York Post, neither confirming nor denying the alleged information. ESPN and Caesars so far have not issued any statements.
As the 2018 Supreme Court decision to allow sports betting has seen states across the country legalizing this type of wagering, sports gambling is set to become a very lucrative industry, on track to generate revenue of about $4 billion in the U.S. in 2021, according to an analysis by research firm Eliers & Krejcik Gaming.
So far, 32 states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports wagering. While ESPN hasn’t entered this industry yet, rival Fox Sports has done so via sportsbook Fox Bet.