ESPN

• Sources say ESPN is going “all in” on sports betting while Sports Illustrated is moving to launch SI Sportsbook and FOX Bet has seen some success in the betting world.

BRISTOL, Conn. – ESPN may be the latest sports media company to lean in heavily on the sports betting trend, with new reports indicating the Walt Disney product may launch a sportsbook in the near future.

Other media outlets like Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated have already either launched or partnered to launch sports betting operations of their own.

Sports media and legal sports betting continue to go hand in hand. ESPN would easily become one of the biggest names in betting should a sportsbook launch.

The Rumors

ESPN sources have stated that the company is going “all in” on legal sports betting and are beginning to explore the potential sportsbook.

This was further aided by the passing of regulated sports betting in Connecticut, ESPN’s home state.

“Everything’s now on the table at ESPN,” said one source. “They’re exploring everything.”

ESPN has been active in the market for some time now. The sports media giant has a sports betting deal with DraftKings to supply odds which was agreed upon earlier in the year. ESPN has also partnered with Caesars Entertainment in order to create original sports betting content for its ESPN+ app, ESPN, and ESPN 2.

ESPN has also hired sports betting analysts in Tyler Fulghum and Joe Fortenbaugh in order to produce these sports betting-centric shows.

Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek also discussed sports betting in a positive light during the most recent earnings report, showing the company has a strong interest in sports betting.

“In terms of our appetite for going further, in terms of what’s really left, there’s not much – well, you mentioned Sunday Ticket,” said Chapek. “And that’s something that we’re in conversations with and we’re considering and we’re thinking about it. Obviously, it’s an attractive property, but we’ll only do it just like our other rights, if it is something that adds shareholder value.”

How Likely Is An ESPN Sportsbook?

Looking at the big media outlets to launch sportsbooks in FOX Bet, SI Sportsbook, and Barstool Sportsbook, ESPN could find a framework for success.

FOX Bet is fully integrated into Fox Sports with analysts and personalities constantly referring to the odds on their titular app when discussing games.

ESPN could do something similar and see major success. ESPN is the number one sports media outlet in the country and would have the largest name recognition.

If ESPN executives view a major financial benefit from launching a sportsbook, they would easily jump on the opportunity.

“Right now, we don’t even have legalized gambling in all 50 states and while the sponsorship value is clearly incremental it’s far from clear just how big this can get despite the optimism,” said Patrick Crakes, former Fox Sports executive. “Remember, it’s not like the equity of casino companies have been sure-fire winners over the past couple decades. There’s also the question of just how large gaming will get with the general market sports viewing/fan.”

There is no certain guarantee that there are moves being made for an ESPN sportsbook, but the fact that rumors are starting to spin out indicates that there has at least been some discussion behind the scenes at Disney for a potential sportsbook.

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