• Loading stock data...
Monday, May 20, 2024

Can ESPN Bet Get on Solid Footing Before Football Season Kicks Off?

  • The sports betting app hurt Penn Entertainment’s most recent earnings.
  • Disney is lending the ESPN brand for $2 billion.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN Bet isn’t even six months old yet, but with the biggest sports gambling events of the first half of the year having yet to produce a major boost for the platform, a crucial summer lies ahead for the product and brand born out of a $2 billion partnership between Disney and Penn Entertainment. 

Last week, Penn’s stock tumbled more than 10% and, at one point reached a 52-week low, after the company missed analyst estimates in its most recent quarter, due in part to struggles by ESPN Bet, which saw lower-than-expected hold and spend per user.

“Admittedly, we have not been as tight and accurate with our financial forecasting in the early days of ESPN Bet,” Penn CEO Jay Snowden said during the company’s earnings call. With earnings from Penn’s online gaming segment coming in roughly $30 million lower than predicted, even ESPN personality Pat McAfee chimed in on the poor performance: “Things going great here. … Not at all.”

The majority of the NBA and NHL playoffs still lie ahead, but the real indicator of success for ESPN Bet will come during its first full professional and college football seasons this fall. Can it use the next four months to get in prime position for a strong run around the NFL and the first season of an expanded 12-team College Football Playoff? 

“ESPN Bet still has a tremendous amount of work to do, as do many sportsbook operators,” Chris Grove, a partner at research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, tells Front Office Sports. “The difference is that Penn appears to be the greatest distance from portability of all major operators, and it’s not clear that their shareholders have any more appetite for sustained losses. We’re certainly not seeing evidence of powerful momentum in the market share or revenue numbers.”

DraftKings and FanDuel Dominate

DraftKings and FanDuel remain the top dogs among U.S. sports betting operators, as they have since it became legal in 2018. Recent data pegged FanDuel’s share of the American sports betting market at roughly 41% and DraftKings at 32%. ESPN Bet, which was estimated under 5%, needs to get 20% market share to satisfy expectations initially laid out by Disney and Penn.

On Tuesday morning, Disney will report its next quarterly earnings, and company CEO Bob Iger could shed more light on ESPN Bet’s performance and any change in outlook for this year.

Linkedin
Whatsapp
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

The NBA’s Final Four May Not Be Exactly What the League Envisioned

This final four will need to lean on its own unique drama to draw big audiences.

Sports World’s Ground Zero: Dallas to Host NBA and NHL Conference Finals

American Airlines Center is the first arena to host NHL, NBA conference finals games in the same season since 2003.
Apr 17, 2024; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona Coyotes left wing Lawson Crouse (67) celebrates after scoring a goal during the third period against the Edmonton Oilers at Mullett Arena.

New Stadiums, New Hurdles: Coyotes and A’s Face High Stakes

The former Coyotes owner takes further steps to try to advance his proposed arena project.

PGA Championship Drama Nearly Delivers a Major Boost to LIV Golf

Xander Schauffele takes home $3.3 million for his victory.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Bare Knuckle Fighting Comes Out of the Shadows

0:00

Featured Today

exclusive

‘This Is Semi-Pro’: Inside One Arena Football League Team’s Collapse

The collapse of the Georgia Force, as told by the players who lived it.
Michael Block signs autographs on the 18th hole during day three of practice for the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.
May 19, 2024

‘I Prefer It This Way’: How Life Works for PGA Club Pros

Here’s how life works for the qualifiers at golf’s second major.
February 5, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; The grounds of the Capitol Building empty out following the conclusion of President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech on February 5, 2019.
May 18, 2024

‘A Breathtaking Lobbying Campaign’: The NCAA’s Sophisticated Effort to Save Amateurism

Inside the carefully coordinated, multimillion-dollar operation to end the athletes’ rights era.
May 14, 2024

The WNBA Was Forged in Houston. Why Won’t It Go Back There?

Houston’s a perfect fit for expansion. The league isn’t considering it yet.

Careers

Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Live Nation
Multiple - USA Careers
Adidas
Multiple - USA Careers
FanDuel
Multiple - USA Careers

MLB Officially Investigating Gambling Allegations Against Ohtani’s Close Friend and Longtime Teammate

David Fletcher reportedly used the same bookmaker as Ohtani’s former interpreter.
May 7, 2024

Commissioners Grapple with Power Limits Amid Sports Betting Boom

The NBA’s Adam Silver acknowledges ‘we only have so much control.’
May 8, 2024

Former Ohtani Interpreter Pleading Guilty to Bank Fraud, False Tax Return

Ippei Mizuhara faces up to 33 years in federal prison for his crimes.
Sponsored

Major League Rugby’s Vision for American Rugby

How Major League Rugby is leading the Rugby renaissance in the U.S.
Mystic Dan
May 6, 2024

Kentucky Derby Roars Back With Big TV Numbers, Inks NBC Extension

The Triple Crown horse race posts an extended set of audience and betting increases.
May 2, 2024

ESPN’s Pat McAfee Jokes About ESPN Bet’s Poor Performance

‘You get knocked down, you come back!’ he said.
May 1, 2024

New Report Shows How Bookie Laundered Ohtani’s Stolen Cash

Ohtani’s stolen money wound up in a Las Vegas casino.
April 17, 2024

NBA’s Lifetime Ban Highlights Surge in Gambling-Related Incidents

The NBA’s lifetime ban on Jontay Porter marks a crescendo of escalating incidents across the industry.