ESPN Bet Highlights the Intersection between Sports, Entertainment & Betting

By | August 14, 2023


In a move that has felt inevitable for some time, ESPN has joined forces with PENN Entertainment and entered the world of sports betting, rebranding the popular Barstool brand as ESPN Bet in the process.

The entertainment world has been flirting with sports betting for some time now, but as the recent failure of FOX Bet showed, it is not always plain sailing. ESPN, however, feels like a very different beast to FOX, and with the power of Disney behind it, failure does not feel likely.

ESPN is one of the biggest sports broadcasters and brands in the world. It has a huge influence over the 21-40 male demographic, which will be key to its success in the gambling world. Any company attempting to succeed needs to understand the kind of content and services this demographic is looking for, and ESPN feels perfectly placed to deliver on this.

The move also continues to move the sports betting world into the mainstream, with ESPN’s reach being significantly bigger than any other industry brand.

At SGG Media, we believe the way people interact with sports and the way they bet is evolving, and this move perfectly highlights this. Betting has become essential to the matchday experience, and for many it has just as much a part of the day as their pre-match beer and catch-up with their buddies or checking out the team news.

The way sport is consumed has changed. Attend any sports game, whether it is NBA, NFL, NHL, or even your local minor-league teams, and you will see people regularly checking their phones to keep up to date with the game’s statistics and, in many cases, placing in-game bets.

ESPN will now be bringing that to people’s homes. Betting, odds updates, and contests have become a regular part of sports broadcasts, and this deal could give to all sorts of new and innovative content. This continued intersection between sports, entertainment, and betting is only going to get closer, and ESPN has stepped into the game at the opportune moment.

Talking of opportune moments, the move comes just months after ESPN announce cost-cutting lay-offs. The injection of cash from this deal will be significant, and as the company deals with the ever changing viewing and TV landscape, the betting industry will provide a whole never revenue stream.

Of course, questions will be raised over ESPN’s impartiality with sports betting and how it will impact their product. A portion of their press-release was dedicated to their continued commitment to journalistic integrity, ensuring bettors and viewers that the merging of the two products will be seamless.

A quick glance across the Atlantic can give you an indication of how effective a sports broadcaster delivering its own sports-book product can be. Skybet in the UK is one of the most used sportsbooks in the country, and it has been able to blend effortlessly into Sky Sport’s broadcasts.

It has also been able to use clever promotions, such as its ‘Super 6’ prediction competition which it ties in cleverly with its coverage This has also helped to build a community around the sportsbook, tapping into the potential of that target demographic by encouraging them to partake in free-to-play leagues and tournaments with friends. Access to communities is essential in the modern sports betting environment, and it is something we have personally placed at the front of our micro-influencer marketing model.

Disney’s presence in this deal is a huge talking point. The House of Mouse has sent mixed signals about wanting to be involved in betting over the years, but ESPN provides them with the perfect vehicle. The early optics for the move have also appeared steady, with no indication of public backlash over Disney’s involvement.

The other part of this puzzle is Barstool being returned to its owner, Dave Portnoy. Once again, this is a smart move for everybody, Barstool has always been a disruptor, and its business strategy and ethos was never suited to being part of a publicly traded company. Portnoy himself has been a controversy magnet and it seems unlikely Disney or ESPN would want to be too heavily associated with the Barstool brand.

ESPN and Disney entering the iGaming space could kick start a new era of sports betting in the United States. The perfect cocktail of sports, betting, and entertainment coming together to create new content and opportunities for the industry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *