Disney CEO Bob Chapek made an interesting revelation this weekend about ESPN’s relationship with sports betting.
Per Bloomberg, at an event in Anaheim, Chapek said that Disney is “working very hard” on creating an ESPN sports betting app.
“Sports betting is a part of what our younger, say, under-35 sports audience is telling us they want as part of their sports lifestyle,” Chapek said in an interview at Disney’s D23 fan event in Anaheim, California. Asked if the company was developing an ESPN sports-betting app, Chapek said: “We’re working very hard on that.”
The relationship between ESPN and sports betting has deepened over the last couple of years. ESPN launched a daily sports betting show, Daily Wager, in March of 2019. Months later, the show moved from ESPNEWS to ESPN2, with ESPNEWS adding on-screen sports betting graphics at the same time. In the summer of 2020, the company opened up a studio in Las Vegas dedicated to sports betting content, including Daily Wager. Last week, ESPN announced some new sports betting shows along with more online content and new roles for some of its on-air personalities.
Launching a sports betting app is a different beast though, and I’d imagine the easiest way to get this done would be to partner with an established brand. This is what NBC did when they partnered with PointsBet, and it’s also what Fox did with The Stars Group for the launch of the Fox Bet app (prior to Flutter’s acquisition of The Stars Group).
I don’t want to speculate on next steps here, but an ESPN betting app does seem like a good idea, even if it is later to the party than some of its competitors. Last year, it was reported that ESPN was looking to license its brand to a sports betting company, with Caesars and DraftKings both mentioned. Could something like that happen with a potential ESPN sports betting app?