In business, it's all about who you partner with — and DraftKings is set to align with the "Worldwide Leader in Sports."
Bloomberg reported today that Disney — the parent company of sports media titan ESPN — is nearing a "large" new partnership with DraftKings, continuing the expansion of legal sports betting into the traditional sports news and entertainment sphere.
NEW: Disney’s ESPN is said to be nearing a large new partnership with sports-betting firm DraftKings https://t.co/fuRx8sR4vy— Bloomberg (@business) October 6, 2022
News of the deal was a jolt to DraftKings stock, which rose as much as 14% today after tumbling by more than 40% from the start of the year, as the Boston-based sportsbooks continues to battle for market share supremacy with rival FanDuel, which launched its own TV network last month.
Disney has long sought to join sports betting fray
In 2019, Disney earned a 5% stake in DraftKings when the company acquired 21st Century Fox. The partnership grew in 2020 when DraftKings signed with ESPN to become their exclusive daily fantasy sports provider.
At that time, Mark Walker, VP at ESPN, noted that the betting industry "is an industry that we will continue to actively pursue as it grows and evolves."
Disney CEO Bob Chapek noted to a strong desire to get into the online sports betting realm last month, telling Bloomberg that Disney was "working very hard" on an app, which would be linked to ESPN.
Chapek also told CNBC last month that ESPN would never directly accept bets — necessitating the need to team up with a regulated operator.
"Now we’re going to need a partner to do that, because we’re never going to be a book," Chapek said to CNBC. "That’s never in the cards for the Walt Disney Company."
Future changes unclear
It’s unclear how a new deal with DraftKings would affect the network’s relationship with Caesars, who like DraftKings was also a signee of a 2020 agreement with ESPN. In that deal, Caesars became the sponsor of ESPN’s fantasy products.
Currently, all the odds featured on ESPN’s website are provided by Caesars Sportsbook. Plus ESPN’s betting show, "The Daily Wager," has a studio in the LINQ Hotel — owned by Caesars.