Tuesday December 5, 2023

ESPN Expands Betting Content With Eye Toward Own Sportsbook

  • ‘Daily Wager’ host Doug Kezirian promoted to ‘Sports Betting Insider.’
  • New roles/shows for Tyler Fulghum, Joe Fortenbaugh, Anita Marks and Erin Dolan.
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ESPN is still exploring the launch of its own branded sportsbook. As the Worldwide Leader in Sports seeks to join the sports betting gold rush, the network is beefing up its content portfolio.

Just in time for football season, the network has promoted Doug Kezirian to “Sports Betting Insider.”

The Las Vegas-based Kezirian has hosted ESPN’s sports betting news/information show, “Daily Wager,” since its launch in March 2019.

With the move, ESPN is seeking to position Kezirian as the “Adam Schefter or Adrian Wojnarowski of sports betting,” said one source.

Kezirian will continue to appear on “Daily Wager” and author multiple betting columns each week on ESPN.com, including last-minute betting advice and picks for Saturdays and Sundays.

Other changes:

  • ESPN Sports Betting Analyst Tyler Fulghum will take over the host role of “Daily Wager.” He’ll continue to contribute outside the show, appearing on “SportsCenter” and “NBA Today.”
  • “Daily Wager” contributor Joe Fortenbaugh will host a new digital show/podcast about the lucrative world of sports betting.
  • Sports Betting Analyst Anita Marks will host a weekly sports betting show on ESPN Radio Los Angeles from 7-10 p.m. PT. She’ll continue to host “The Anita Marks Show” on ESPN New York radio.  
  • Sports Betting Analyst Erin Dolan will host a new sports betting show on Snapchat dubbed “Bet with Erin Dolan” each Monday.  

“Fans are craving sports betting content, and ahead of and during football season we want to provide it to them,” said Scott Clark, ESPN’s vice president, fantasy & sports betting content. 

“We have added some talented minds to the diverse and well-respected industry experts we already have, and are implementing new creative ideas into the mix. Now we’re just ready to watch it all unfold starting with football season.”

With more than half of U.S. states legalizing sports betting (including its home state of Connecticut), ESPN has been in negotiations with potential sports betting partners about launching its own branded sportsbook.

ESPN has talked about licensing its famous four letters to sports betting giants such as DraftKings, Caesars, and FanDuel, said sources. Such a deal could fetch up to $3 billion for ESPN and parent The Walt Disney Co., according to the Wall Street Journal.

During an earnings call, Disney chief executive officer Bob Chapek confirmed his company is exploring a move into the $165 billion sports betting industry.

“Sports fans that are under 30 absolutely require this,” Chapek said.

ESPN has had co-exclusive marketing deals with DraftKings and Caesars since September 2020.

Disney inherited roughly 6% of DraftKings through its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2019. The two companies have been in business together since 2015 when ESPN named DraftKings its “official Daily Fantasy” offering across platforms.

Activist investor Daniel Loeb is lobbying Disney to spin off ESPN; in part because it would give the sports network more flexibility with betting.

On Wednesday, Disney chief financial officer Christine McCarthy shut down talk of a spinoff, saying the company likes “the hand we have with ESPN.”

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