ESPN Takes Next Step In Sports Betting With Vegas Studio
Disney is dipping another toe in the sports gambling space, committing to build an ESPN-branded studio on the Las Vegas Strip at some point next year. The studio is part of a wide-ranging deal with Caesars that will be announced at Disney’s advertising upfront presentation today. It comes one week after Disney Chair & CEO Bob Iger told investors that his company would not be involved in the business of sports gambling, but would continue to produce sports gambling-related programming and sell sports gambling-related advertising. The deal also comes three months after Turner Sports signed a similar deal to build a Bleacher Report-branded studio inside the Caesars Palace sportsbook.
DEAL DETAILS: Specific financials about the Caesars deal weren’t given. The ESPN-branded studio will be built above The Book at LINQ Hotel & Casino. ESPN has committed to produce a still-to-be-formed weekly show from the studio that will be available via either a linear channel, ESPN+ or one of ESPN’s social media outlets. The network also plans to produce daily segments for its “Daily Wager” show, plus gambling-related content around bigger sporting events. As part of the deal, Caesars will be the official Odds Data Supplier across all ESPN platforms and ESPN will cite Caesars odds across all of its platforms. Caesars also has an undetermined number of ad commitments through the deal. ESPN VP/Business Development Mike Morrison and Caesars Exec VP & CMO Chris Holdren negotiated the deal.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING: The Hollywood Reporter's Marisa Guthrie notes the betting space has seen a "rush of interest" since the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting last year, and subscriber losses have "forced ESPN to innovate." ESPN Exec VP/Content Connor Schell said, "We’re thinking about the space in very responsible ways. We’re going to serve those fans with information and analytics. We are not promoting betting in any way. But we know there are sports fans who are interested in that type of content.” The Wall Street Journal's Allison Prang notes ESPN’s efforts come as broadcasters "look for ways to capitalize on growth in sports betting."