Competition heating up
When the federal ban on sports betting was ended in May 2018 by a Supreme Court decision, it created massive opportunity. States could bring in additional tax revenue by legalizing sports betting, operators could get a slice of the valuable new market, gamblers could get access to legal forms of sports betting, and the sports leagues could capitalize on the increased interest. Media companies can also benefit handsomely from this evolving market, with ESPN and Fox battling it out to be the top dog in this regard.
ESPN, one of the largest sports television networks in the United States, recently announced a dedicated studio for sports betting content, in partnership with the powerful Caesars Entertainment Group.
The brand-new studio will be set up at the Linq Hotel in Las Vegas. It will be the hub for exciting new sports betting content that will reach a global audience. There were no details given about the financial agreement between the two parties.
This studio will not be open until 2020, but it is set to play a key part in ESPN’s sports coverage from then on. A lot of digital and social media content will be shot there. The network is already running a dedicated sports betting show, the Daily Wager.
Speaking about this move, Mike Morrison, vice president for business development at ESPN, said: “Working with a category leader like Caesars Entertainment will help us serve these highly engaged, diverse sports fans with the best and most relevant content possible. The sports betting landscape has changed and fans are coming to us for this kind of information more than ever before.”
Basing this studio in Las Vegas is optimal because it is the number one place for sports betting in the country.
Fox Sports looming
Fox Sports is also running new television shows dedicated to sports betting and is taking a more hands-on approach. The network is developing its own sports betting platform, Fox Bet.
Fox is teaming up with BetStars to do so, having bought a 4.99% stake in the Stars Group. This deal is worth $236m (£185m) and also gives Fox the option of increasing its stake in the Stars Group to 50% in the next ten years. The Stars Group already has expertise in sports betting, having bought Sky Betting and Gaming for $4.7bn (£3.7bn) in 2018.
The Fox Bet platform will launch before the end of 2019. There will be two separate platforms. One will be free to play and will offer different prizes to those who perform the best with their sports predictions.
The goal is to convert these free-to-play customers to the pay-to-play platform. Fox has a lot of resources to pile into this project, having recently sold a significant amount of its entertainment assets to Disney for about $71bn (£55.7bn).