Disney Embraces Daily Fantasy Sports Betting with ESPN+

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Disney is changing its anti-gambling stance and embracing sports betting as a viable recreational segment in full. The company announced on Thursday this week that it will seek to create a dedicated hub for fantasy sports and sports betting products with ESPN+, ramping up the number of such content the company provides.

The company’s media branch, ESPN, has recently entered a partnership with Caesars Entertainment, a casino and sportsbook operator in the United States. Moving forward, and as a result of this partnership, ESPN’s sports coverage is now readily available at Caesars’ sports betting software and platforms, and across various media.

Happy with the success of the alliance, Disney announced that it expected to rev up the efforts put in providing ESPN+ subscribers with fantasy and sports betting content, citing 11.5 million new subscribers. 

Meanwhile, ESPN+ will host the colleague league NCAA Southeastern Conference as the go-to streaming platform for the competition, as detailed in a recent partnership.

The league will launch officially in 2024. Disney’s recent interest in the sports entertainment segment after the company shied away from it for a few years, arguing that it sees itself as more of a family-friendly brand.

However, the Disney-owned sports media arm has been particularly successful in eliciting a strong interest from sports bettors, and the recent spate of legalizations that happened in the United States have prompted the company to seek deeper integration with this type of product.

Where Do Disney and ESPN Stand on Fantasy Sports?

Fantasy sports used to be the grey market option for many Americans when the sports betting industry was illegal in the majority of US jurisdictions. Moving forth, though, there is nothing to stop companies, including Disney to harness the power of fantasy betting, a market that is estimated at $18.6 billion in 2019.

However, projections put the value of the daily fantasy sports or DFS segment at $48.6 billion by 2027, with CAGR of 13.9% between 2021 and 2027, a research by Allied Market, an analytics firm, revealed.

Disney has been all but shy about acquiring sports betting assets. The company bought out Fox in 2019, and acquired an 11% stake in DraftKings. Today, Disney has over 137 million streaming subscribers, and the company continues to develop in promising new opportunities.

Disney is set to debut in Asia, South Korea and Eastern Europe, and seek deeper integration with China by arriving on the market in Hong Kong. Fantasy and sports products, including wagering, will definitely be part of the company’s focus.

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