ESPN Bet App Breaks FanDuel’s Download Record in First Week

  • The 1.1 million downloads surpassed the previous record of 486,000
  • ESPN has been strongly pushing the new sportsbook during broadcasts
  • PENN Entertainment is operating ESPN Bet as part of a $1.5bn agreement
Man using his phone
ESPN Bet set a new record for sportsbook app downloads during its opening week in business. [Image:]

A strong start

ESPN Bet is aiming to disrupt the US sports betting sector and it has gotten off to a strong start. The sportsbook launched on November 14 in 17 states, resulting in over 1.1 million downloads in its opening week. This smashes the previous record of 486,000 that FanDuel set during the 2022 Super Bowl.

ESPN Bet accounted for about 70% of total sportsbook app downloads

ESPN Bet dominated the app stores’ most popular lists, as the platform launched in numerous major markets including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Arizona. According to JMP Securities, ESPN Bet accounted for about 70% of total sportsbook app downloads during the opening period.

A competitive market

FanDuel and DraftKings have been the two dominant players since the US federal ban on sports betting came to an end in May 2018. They control about 77% of the market combined, with BetMGM in a distant third place with a 10% share.

The launch of sportsbooks linked to well-known brands like ESPN and Fanatics is set to shake up the current market. Operators spend big on advertising in an attempt to attract bettors; DraftKings had a marketing spend of $313m in the third quarter of 2023.

ESPN has been strongly pushing the new sportsbook venture

Disney-owned ESPN has been strongly pushing the new sportsbook venture during its broadcasts, commercials, and on social media. Odds are incorporated into many forms of content across the popular network, including its fantasy sports platform. 

Changing approach

PENN Entertainment, the operator of ESPN Bet, licensed the media giant’s name for an initial ten-year term in August. This deal came at a cost of $1.5bn, with PENN discarding its previous Barstool-branded sportsbook as a result.

PENN sold the Barstool Sports media business back to Dave Portnoy for $1 after originally spending about $551m to buy it.

The strong results during ESPN Bet’s opening week contributed to Penn’s share price rising about 7%. Bank of America analysts upgraded the stock from a neutral position to a buy recommendation on the back of the strong interest from bettors.

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