Disney and ESPN May Pursue $3 Billion Sports Betting Venture

It seems like everyone’s getting into sports betting these days. In the past few months, we’ve seen companies such as Maxim and Sports Illustrated launch their very own sportsbook platforms. This is in addition to all the established books available such as FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM. Everyone wants a piece of the action, which makes a lot of sense. After all, sports betting legalization is spreading across the U.S., with Arizona just launching legal sports betting a few weeks ago and Connecticut eyeing October legalization. Well, it might not shock you that one of the world’s biggest companies isn’t just looking to dip their toe in the sports betting industry, but strongly pursue it. Here’s what you need to know about Disney and ESPN’s possible plans to get into the world of wagering on sports.

Disney Pursues Sports Betting

With the dramatic rise of sports betting in the U.S., it’s no surprise that a major company like Disney would want to get involved. Heck, it’s almost surprising that Google and Facebook haven’t tried launching their own sportsbooks. According to Disney CEO Bob Chapek, the company is looking to use ESPN, which it owns 80% of, to partner with a number of betting operators. The move is an attempt to appeal to a youthful audience that already has an interest in sports.

What Will This Deal Look Like?

While we still don’t have all the details, there has been plenty of speculation on the potential Disney sports betting venture. Supposedly, some talks with ESPN and wagering partners have floated around a deal worth $3 billion. Considering the company paid $4 billion for the Star Wars franchise rights, it’s clear the long-running corporation sees massive potential in sports wagering. Interestingly, ESPN already has some sports betting partnerships, as seen with agreements made with Caesars Entertainment and DraftKings. Additionally, it’s become commonplace for ESPN to flash betting lines and even discuss best bets on certain shows.

One interesting part of this story is the juxtaposition between the family-friendly nature of Disney with the more adult culture of sports betting. However, as noted by Chapek, the move is primarily focused on appealing to younger sports fans more than anything.

Disney Has Plenty of Expansion Experience

This company does much more than just run theme parks and make movies. The Walt Disney Corporation is no stranger to expanding into other businesses. After all, the company owns media companies such as ABC, Pixar, and LucasFilm, as well as more random businesses such as Earth Star Inc., the private jet company actually used by higher-ups at Disney. They’ve also got stakes in a number of different media platforms, such as the aforementioned 80% ownership of ESPN, a 50% equity holding of the History Channel, and 10% ownership of Vice Media. And it’s no secret that the massive company owns the rights to major franchises such as Star Wars, Marvel, Indiana Jones, and much more. They’ve got the resources to make big moves in sports betting, so it will be interesting to watch how they take on the competition.

Anthony Elio is a CU Boulder graduate with a degree in creative writing and advertising. He’s spent the past few years diving into the world of sports betting, focusing on everything from NFL to NHL and beyond.

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