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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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ESPN Bet Preps November Launch With Spending To Reach $3.5B

  • PENN Entertainment says ESPN will be rolled out by Thanksgiving at the latest.
  • Total investment in the product will reach at least $3.5 billion over 10 years.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN Bet will launch sometime in November, PENN Entertainment announced during an earnings call on Wednesday, as the company pivots from Barstool and rebrands its sportsbook during the beginning of the football season.

Company president and CEO Jay Snowden is bullish on using the final two months of 2023 to set up ESPN Bet for a strong run through the NFL playoffs, Super Bowl, and March Madness. “We’re going to be out there launching at a time where, maybe with everyone else, new customers have burned through those promotional dollars on first-time deposit matches.”

PENN will match its annual $150 million payment to ESPN with equal marketing spend, bringing its total investment in this venture to at least $300 million per year. “We’re certainly not going to be cheap about our approach,” Snowden said. 

Combined with the $500 million in warrants PENN is granting to ESPN, that brings its total investment up to $3.5 billion over the 10-year deal.

Snowden is confident that reaching 20% of the U.S. online sports betting market share is attainable, with ESPN’s robust live sports portfolio driving consumer interest: “The key differentiation for us … is going to be the things that we can do around media integration, video, and maybe potentially live streaming. There’s a lot of things that we can do, because of who our partner is here, that others won’t be able to.”

Still to be determined is if and when PENN’s retail sportsbooks will take on physical ESPN Bet branding. “ESPN folks have not had a chance to visit our properties yet,” Snowden explained. “So, we’re going to go through a process, and there could be potentially some ESPN-branded retail sportsbooks on plan.”

Multiple times during the call, Snowden pointed to a planned investor day in December for more updates on specific plans beyond the launch, claiming that 2025 would be the year he expects to “start to see the returns” on investment.

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