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ESPN Looks to License Its Brand to a Sportsbook for $3 Billion

Walt Disney’s ESPN is looking to license its brand for at least $3 billion over the course of several years amid a boom in the sports-betting industry.

The sports-media giant has held talks with players that own major sportsbooks, including casino operator Caesars Entertainment Inc. and online gambling company DraftKings Inc., the people said. ESPN has existing marketing partnerships with both companies.

On offer is the right for a suitor to use the ESPN name for branding purposes and potentially rename its sportsbook after the leading sports TV network in the U.S., the people said. A deal could come with an exclusive marketing commitment that would require the sports-betting firm to spend a certain amount of money advertising on ESPN’s platforms, one of the people said.

There is no guarantee ESPN will reach a deal. It remains to be seen whether gaming companies have an appetite to pay for the ESPN name when they are already investing to establish their existing brands.

If ESPN has entered advanced negotiations with either company on the game-changing partnership, it should come as little surprise. Last September, ESPN announced separate “co-exclusive link integration” agreements with DraftKings and Caesars hours before the regular season debut of Monday Night Football on the network. As part of the deal, Caesars Sportsbook (formerly William Hill US) became ESPN’s exclusive odds provider across multiple platforms, while DraftKings received designation as the exclusive daily fantasy sports provider for the network. Pursuant to the agreement, DraftKings committed to approximately $35-50 million per year for a period of up to 10 years, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing.

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