NFL kicks off sports betting season, ESPN joins the draft
The Bills may have won Thursday’s NFL game opener, but sports betting firms may be the real winners. Data from GeoComply showed sports betting activity jumping 77% on Thursday compared to last year’s opening game.
What’s the big deal? “NFL is the dominant driver of both wagering and user sign-ups,” per Analyst Edward Engel (SA). But this year, sports betting firms have pulled back on growth plans — focusing on profitability first, a popular theme.
Most sports betting companies are still losing money, and high market expenses are to blame. Firms were offering as much as $3,000 in free bets when online sports betting launched in New York.
High roller incoming: ESPN — which is in negotiations with sports betting partners — is exploring launching its own branded sportsbook.
- ESPN considered licensing its brand to other sports betting firms — which could net it as much as $3B over several years (WSJ).
- When reporters asked Bob Chapek, CEO of Disney — which owns ESPN — whether they were developing a sports-betting app, he responded with, “we’re working very hard on that.”
ESPN is a valuable asset to Disney: In August, activist investor Daniel Loeb tried pushing Disney to spin off ESPN into its own company. Chapek reportedly received hundreds of inquiries from interested parties, but he’s not looking to sell:
- “If everyone wants to come in and buy it… that says something about its potential“ — “I think its potential is within the Disney company.”
- Loeb backed off after Chapek’s comment.