Pat McAfee discussing ESPN Bet on his show. Photo Credit: ESPN

ESPN would probably love for sports fans to largely disregard the less-than-stellar first-quarter earnings generated by ESPN Bet, the network’s sportsbook platform operated by Penn Entertainment. But curiously, ESPN’s Pat McAfee continues to bring up the struggles of the new gambling platform on his show.

ESPN Bet fell short of earning estimates in the first quarter of 2024, which resulted in Penn stocks recently tumbling.

Instead of McAfee simply reading the ESPN Bet ad-reads to plug the brand and potentially grow the sportsbook, McAfee has been brutally honest about the product.

On Thursday’s edition of The Pat McAfee Show, McAfee sarcastically said that “things are going great” while pointing at the ESPN Bet graphic above him, before later being truthful and saying that it indeed “isn’t at all” going great.

He then later added that ESPN Bet has “a lot of room to grow”, before then ultimately offering some hopeful thoughts for the product in the future.

“Now, granted, ESPN Bet, I don’t think ESPN people are running the book,” said McAfee. “I think it’s somebody with a whole thing. With that said, let’s go. You’ve got ESPN on it. Come on… let’s go, let’s get into this thing.”

On Friday’s edition of his show, McAfee again spoke in detail about some of ESPN Bet’s shortcomings, pointing out how ESPN Bet is not available in Connecticut, which is where ESPN headquarters is in Stamford, Connecticut.

“I didn’t know ESPN Bet isn’t in Connecticut,” said McAfee joined by Fox Sports betting analyst Chris “Bear” Fallica. “ESPN is in Connecticut. There is so much to it. I don’t know anybody at ESPN Bet or Penn. But obviously, we are now licensing our show on ESPN. We would like to see ESPN have success if their name is on there.

“When you use the app, it feels like you know, there is gonna have to be some stuff (changed) here. But you just assume it’s doing well. I just assumed it was doing well. And then they make the announcement that… nope. You know, the tech has to be good. That is the number one thing that some of these newer sportsbooks don’t understand.”

On one hand, it is actually quite noble of McAfee to outwardly voice his complaints about ESPN Bet. His truthfulness in his assessment of the product is certainly on brand for him, as he always says what is on his mind, even if it isn’t popular among the ESPN brasses.

But obviously, the other side of this is that ESPN would likely prefer that McAfee avoided sharing his negative opinions so publically about the product.

There have already been plenty of clear arguments out there that ESPN may be in over their heads when it comes to partnering with McAfee. And this only adds to that argument if he continues to speak openly about the sportsbook moving forward.

[Awful Announcing on Twitter/X]

About Reice Shipley

Reice Shipley is a staff writer for Comeback Media that graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Sports Media. He previously worked at Barrett Sports Media and is a fan of all things Syracuse sports.