ESPN is actively seeking to enter the sports betting space by selling its brand to sportsbook operators, a report in The Wall Street Journal speculates.
ESPN Naming Rights Valued at $3 Billion
ESPN, the sports media giant owned by Walt Disney, held talks with major operators DraftKings and Caesars Entertainment, looking to license its brand over several years for at least $3 billion, according to the media report, based on unnamed sources.
ESPN already has existing marketing partnership deals with both Caesars and DraftKings and is seeking to expand these to additionally profit from the huge potential sports betting and iGaming markets in the US present in the upcoming years.
Sports betting in the US exploded into action since the 2018 Supreme Court decision struck down PASPA to allow states, besides Nevada, to introduce legal wagering on sporting events. According to recent projections, sports betting will generate around $4 billion in revenue this year. To date, 32 states and the District of Columbia are offering some types of legal bets on sports.
The potential buyer will acquire the ESPN name for branding purposes with the option to rename its sportsbook after the sports media network. The deal may also involve an exclusive marketing commitment that will set a minimum of advertising money spent by the suitor on ESPN’s platforms, the report noted.
No Talks Confirmation
While a representative for DraftKings responded that the company’s general policy is to “not comment on the specifics” of business negotiations, neither confirming nor denying the media report, ESPN and Caesars did not immediately respond for comment.
The report is showing a change in ESPN, though, which was previously hesitant about entering the sports betting scene so far, just dabbling with odds and sports betting integration partnership deals for some of its shows. With podcasts and telecasts specifically aimed at gambling audiences like “Daily Wager,” ESPN avoided becoming directly involved with sports betting and gambling deals.
The timing of the report makes it unclear whether either Caesars or DraftKings, or any other potential buyer capable of forking over the asking price, is poised for a deal with ESPN, as operators are already heavily invested in their own sportsbook brands and may be reluctant to invest additionally for ESPN naming rights.