As sports gambling comes out of the shadows and into the mainstream, some of the biggest powers in sports entertainment are jumping on the betting bandwagon. This week, DraftKings and Caesars announced a deal with ESPN to feature their content on the network’s TV and digital platforms. Subsequently, shares of DraftKings jumped 12% and shares of Caesars jumped 7% on Monday.
The agreement will allow ESPN to link exclusively to the two companies’ sportsbooks. Additionally, DraftKings will become ESPN’s sole provider for fantasy sports. The country’s most popular sports network will soon run fantasy sports segments, powered by DraftKings, on their daily programs.
Mike Morrison, vice president of business development and innovation at ESPN, calls the partnership “the next significant milestone for ESPN to diversify our exposure and deepen our commitment in the sports betting space.”
Meanwhile, DraftKings, already an online sports betting sensation, views the deal as an opportunity to expand its audience even further. “ESPN’s reach amongst sports fans is unparalleled,” said Jason Robins, the co-founder and chief executive of DraftKings. “The start of NFL is the perfect time for DraftKings to be launching this integration.”
Robins is referring, of course, to the return of football, which started anew last week. The NFL now joins the NBA, MLB, and NHL in returning to live sporting events, which all but shutdown for several months amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As for Caesars, the new deal with ESPN follows an announcement from last year that the sports network and casino brand would pair up to build a new studio in Las Vegas. The studio launched last week, and will serve as the network’s hub for all sports-betting content.
Taboo No More
All of this signifies a paradigm shift for sports television, which once considered gambling a taboo. After the Supreme Court ended a ban on betting in 2018, several states have moved to legalize sports betting, which has proven a huge source of tax revenue. DraftKings has already seen great success in their online betting space, and ESPN and established casinos like Caesars are wasting no time getting in on the action.