Disney Opens Door to Sports Betting

    • Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that the company's research indicated that it would not damage its reputation with sports betting.
    • ESPN could move into sports betting through a sportsbook partnership or acquisition.

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Disney CEO Bob Chapek sounds more open than ever to ESPN embracing sports betting, despite Disney’s family-friendly image.

During Wednesday’s earnings call, Chapek said that Disney has found both a broader acceptance of sports betting among the general public and that people see ESPN and Disney as separate brands.

“We have done substantial research in terms of the impact not only to the ESPN brand, but the Disney brand, in terms of consumers’ changing perceptions of the acceptability of gambling,” said Chapek. “And what we’re finding is that there’s a very significant isolation.”

  • ESPN looked into licensing its name to another sportsbook for at least $3 billion. The company has held talks with both Caesars and DraftKings.
  • The sports network was also rumored to be interested in partnering with or acquiring casino and sportsbook operator Rush Street Interactive.

It’s unclear if Chapek’s statements affect Disney’s reported exploration of spinning off ESPN into a company with more freedom to pursue sports betting ventures and a more singular focus on linear broadcasting than Disney’s other media businesses.

ESPN+ grew its subscriber base by 66% to 17.1 million in Disney’s fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Oct. 3.