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Stoyan Todorov December 19, 2023 3 min read
ESPN Gears Product Offering to Attract More Women
Barstool Sportsbook, the previous sportsbook that was operated by Penn Entertainment, was not exactly known for its gallant attitude towards women
Not least because its founder, David Portnoy, was embroiled in a scandal that involved women making allegations against the sports betting entrepreneur over rough sexual encounters. ESPN Bet, the brand that has replaced Barstool, though may be the exact opposite, as it seeks to involve women sports bettors, or at least has a bigger appeal to this specific demographic.
Bank of America’s Outlook for ESPN Bet
At least this is what Shaun Kelley, a Bank of America Global Research analyst, expects to see from the brand. ESPN Bet is already having a bigger-than-anticipated reach, and part of this has to do with the brand’s strong appeal to women. In a note to investors, Kelley outlined his observations about the sportsbook’s current performance:
It’s our sense ESPN Bet could be growing the market through more casual and female bettors compared to other sportsbooks. In November, ESPN’s share came from DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars, while FanDuel gained one point of share, which we think is driven by NBA seasonality and increased marketing.Shaun Kelley, a Bank of America Global Research analyst
Although it’s early days, Kelley argues that the initial estimates for the sportsbook are exceeded by its actual performance. ESPN is also moving quickly to ensure that it has a strong foothold in some of the biggest events of the year, including the Super Bowl, with the brand’s Bet Mode in the ESPN Media app already translating into better retention, the analyst argues.
The performance in Maryland and Kansas, where ESPN Bet seems to be faring strongly, may be chalked up to the aggressive marketing and promotion push the sportsbook has been carrying out locally, which should cost it a fair penny and may compound financial results, translating into further losses. Shelley believes ESPN Bet is on track to post $185 million in losses during the forth quarter, precisely because of these promo offers.
Promotional offers are also under scrutiny in the United States, as DraftKings, an ESPN Bet competitor, is already facing a class-action lawsuit in Massachusetts, as a public advocacy group is arguing that the promotions are misleading.
Analyst Surprised at ESPN’s Strong Performance
In the meantime, ESPN Bet’s better-than-expected performance has been confirmed by other analysts as well. Chad Beynon from Macquarie, a financial services company, was pretty much arguing the same as his colleague from Bank of America, saying that ultimately, ESPN Bet is defying expectations and on track to secure a larger market share than initially expected.
Once again, though, Beynon was cautious of the fact that once the promotional push winds down, ESPN Bet will end in the same place where all other sportsbooks are today – how to turn a profit.
In the past several months betting businesses have realized that investors are now more reluctant to land cash at the distant prospect of turning a profit. Something more tangible is required. Whether ESPN Bet will deliver only time will tell.