Is ESPN the future of sports betting in America? That’s the vibe that Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek was giving off at a recent earnings call with investors.
At the meeting Chapek said that Disney, ESPN’s corporate owner, will be expanding its sports betting content considerably in the near future. That thought is both a genuine reflection of the incredibly popularity of regulated sports betting in the Unite States; and the importance of ESPN to Disney’s financial ecosystem.
According to a recent report on Forbes.com, ESPN is responsible for 90 percent of the most watched shows of any network Disney owns. Adding to the gravy, ESPN+ subscriptions are up 66 percent over last year. Chapek thinks that regulated sports betting is behind the ESPN surge, and he’s keen to take advantage of the situation.
During the earnings call Chapek commented on the importance of sports betting saying, “We do believe that sports betting is a very significant opportunity for the company, and it’s all driven by the consumer. It’s driven by the consumer, particularly the younger consumer that will replenish the sports fans over time and their desire to have gambling as part of their sports experience.”
ESPN already has partnerships with gambling operators including Caesars Entertainment and DraftKings. Forbes estimates that a licensing deal between ESPN and one of these operators could be worth more than $3 billion.
Chapek demurred when asked if he’s planning on turning ESPN into a licensed operator. But anything is possible so long as American keep throwing billions of dollars at regulated sports betting operators.