DraftKings Shares Spike as Sources Say Disney’s ESPN Close to Partnership Deal

  • DraftKings stock soared 12% by Thursday’s close after reports of talks with ESPN emerged
  • Parent brand Disney has previously said it wants $3bn minimum for a multi-year licensing deal
  • A DraftKings spokesperson said the firm has “a great, long standing relationship with ESPN”
  • A potential DraftKings tie-up raises some questions about ESPN’s relationship with Caesars
Arrows up
Disney’s CEO has long talked up a sports betting partner for affliate ESPN but now, according to sources, it seems DraftKings is about to land the gig. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Groundbreaking deal

A Bloomberg scoop has revealed a “large new partnership” is imminent between one of the US’s largest sports betting firms and a subsidiary of one of the world’s best-loved brands.

reportedly near-done deal

The reportedly near-done deal between DraftKings and Disney sub-brand ESPN saw the former’s stock spike 12% by the close of Thursday’s market. One of the Bloomberg reporters who broke the story, Ed Hammond, shared news of the potentially seismic deal via Twitter:

Sources clued up on the matter said the tie-up would give ESPN the opportunity to capitalize on the legalized sports betting boom. However, the anonymous insiders stopped short of shedding any light on the details of the potential partnership.

If the talks bear fruit, it will make a significant dent in DraftKings’ bank balance, with ESPN reportedly wanting $3bn minimum for a multi-year licensing deal.

Tie-up of the titans

According to the scoop seen in Bloomberg this week, a spokesperson for Boston-headquartered DraftKings said the sportsbook brand doesn’t divulge the specifics of talks it has with other firms. That said, the firm did note that it has “a great, long standing relationship with ESPN.” Its potential partner refused to comment.

News of the expected deal comes less than a month after Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that, while ESPN would never run its own sportsbook, it was actively searching for a “well-respected third party” to become its book.

With advertising dollars from sportsbooks swelling media companies’ coffers, Chapek has desired a slice of the pie for some time. The Disney boss previously talked up the “enormous opportunity” of sports betting back in November 2021.

Wider repercussions

The potential DraftKings tie-up raises some questions about ESPN’s relationship with its odds provider Caesars Sportsbook, as sports legislation writer Ryan Butler tweeted:

The news may also give market leader FanDuel pause for thought should its nearest rival get access to ESPN’s substantial viewership, which averaged 1.2 million viewers over two weeks for the US Open alone. FanDuel launched its own sports betting content platform FanDuel TV in August.

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