A 400-pound gorilla will be entering the US regulated sports betting space on November 14 when Penn Entertainment and ESPN launch their branded sportsbook ESPN BET in 17 states. With ESPN BET launching in so many states simultaneously, while leveraging the incredible brand power of the network’s massive media ecosystem, the new sportsbook is very likely to shake up the existing gaming space.
ESPN BET comes to market with a number of advantages, not the least of which is that by taking over existing Barstool Sports sites, they are already licensed in multiple markets. That’s how they are able to launch simultaneously in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Of course ESPN BET’s biggest advantage going to market is the sports media behemoth that is ESPN. For starters, the network is re-branding its hugely popular Daily Wager show to ESPN BET Lives on November 6, according to a release posted on the ESPN Press Room.
Penn Entertainment CEO Jay Snowden hinted at the scale of ESPN’s marketing abilities in a recent call to investors reported on by SBC Americas saying, “In connection with the launch, ESPN will be implementing an initial wave of exclusive integrations across the ESPN ecosystem, which includes 200 million unique monthly users in the US more than 12 million of whom are regular users of the nation’s number one fantasy sports app at ESPN.”
Snowden also mentioned the significance of launching during football season and, more specifically, during a very busy stretch of football season adding, “This allows us to take advantage of a very active Thanksgiving week sports calendar, which includes the NCAA college football rivalry week, and the Super Bowl rematch of the Kansas City Chiefs in the Philadelphia Eagles, which will be televised on ESPN Monday Night Football.”
The biggest issue standing in front to Penn and ESPN as they launch ESPN BET is keeping sports betting content in check. An overload of sports betting content on flagship shows like Sports Center and College GameDay could result in a backlash from viewers and advertisers.