Disney, ESPN+, and Sports Betting

  • Disney tells investors at a conference that they will be leaning in on sports betting and fantasy sports to boost their ESPN+ streaming platform.
  • ESPN has partnered with Caesars Entertainment and William Hill sportsbook in a multi-year deal.
  • Disney believes sports betting will attract a younger audience.

LAS VEGAS – In a recent investor meeting where major bombshells were announced by entertainment giant Walt Disney Company, an announcement that Disney will be leaning in further on sports betting was made.

The goal is to use sports betting to strengthen the company’s ESPN+ streaming service. Sports betting integration could bring in a younger audience.

Disney has been hesitant in the past to embrace sports betting, but now feel that legal sports betting and fantasy sports are a way to improve the ESPN+ service.

Disney Does Sports Betting

While the majority of the investors meeting focused on the success of the Disney+ and Hulu streaming services, Disney did manage to mention to investors the willingness to lean into sports betting.

The idea is that sports betting will bring in a younger audience and make the ESPN+ app more popular. The app currently has 11.5 million subscribers, lagging behind Hulu’s 38.8 million and the 86.8 million for Disney+.

While in the past Disney was adamantly against getting involved in gambling of any kind, doubting the possibility altogether.

“I don’t see The Walt Disney Company, certainly in the near term, getting involved in the business of gambling, in effect, by facilitating gambling in any way,” said Bob Iger, CEO of Walt Disney Company. “Getting into the business of gambling, I rather doubt it.”

That tune has clearly changed as Disney already began taking steps to get involved with sports betting.

Just in September Disney’s ESPN partnered with William Hill and Caesars Entertainment for sports betting, an event that was highlighted to investors during the meeting.

“With Caesars utilizing odds from William Hill’s sports betting data, we are able to deliver content in new and innovative ways,” said Mike Morrison, Vice President of Business Development & Innovation, ESPN. “Our multi-dimensional relationship is a testament to the growth and opportunity in the sports betting space.”

Disney is the biggest entertainment company in the world and embracing sports betting this way further solidifies the sports betting market in the US. The integrations on the ESPN+ streaming platform is looking to bring in a new generation of sports betting fans.

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