with disney You can get it all in a bundle. Tired of Pixar? Watch the latest Marvel movies. Tired of Marvel? Watch Nature Documentaries from National Geographic. Tired of animals? Visit ESPN and enjoy baseball. Still not satisfied? Have you ever thought about gambling?
Earlier this month, ESPN, which has been owned by Disney since 1995, announced the launch of its online betting brand, ESPN Bet. Penn Entertainment, which recently ended its relationship with controversial Barstool Sports owner Dave Portnoy, is giving ESPN $2 billion over 10 years to use the ESPN brand on its new betting service due to launch in the fall. I will pay you a dollar. And the entertainment industry will also become more involved with gambling.
Disney has outsourced bookmaking to a third party, and PENN, not ESPN, will handle betting. Still, the move isn’t surprising. Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018 and U.S. states began legalizing sports betting, the House of Mouse is more involved than ever with the industry.
Disney CEO Bob Iger’s move here is noteworthy. In 2023, Iger admitted, “I was probably on the more conservative side.” [gambling] For a long time,” he said, worried that any association would undermine the company’s family-friendly values, but provided that Disney wasn’t operating as a bookmaker, he would be able to do so with public acceptance. has changed its mind. “When billions of dollars are at stake, [Disney] Darren Heitner, founder of sports law firm Heitner Legal, said:
Remember, this is the same Disney that banned casinos on cruise ships and fought the expansion of gambling establishments in Florida. However, in the words of former Disney CEO Bob Chapek, the marriage of ESPN and sports betting has proven to be too “perfect” to pass up. daily wagerESPN’s sports betting program that started in 2019 and recorded a high audience rating. PENN’s rivals, DraftKings and FanDuel, with his 70% market share in US sports betting, advertise prominently on ESPN. “Sports betting has been part of the ESPN experience for many years,” said Chris Grove, CEO of American Affiliates, which offers a sports betting investment portfolio. “While this new deal ties the ESPN brand to gambling in a deeper and more direct way, it’s not a fundamental change for Disney.”
“For ESPN, this is the next step in the sports betting process and definitely what our fans want from us. It directly translates to higher levels of engagement,” said Mike Morrison, ESPN’s vice president of sports betting. “This is going to be a huge opportunity for everyone in the sport and I think we have room to grow within it.”
The launch of ESPN Bet is entwined with Disney’s long-term plans to uproot the sports business from the old world of cable TV into the not-so-new streaming era. (ESPN+ launched in 2018, but is still seeing a decline in subscribers, showing some MLB and NHL games live, but still NBA and NFL, which are only available with an ESPN TV subscription.) Not included.) In 2017, Bloomberg explained how ESPN, once Disney’s money press, was starting to shrink. These struggles have been blamed on the rise of streaming and social media, the mass cord cutting that continues to reshape the entertainment industry. At the same time, the cost of sports rights has skyrocketed.