ESPN isn’t quite ready to put all its chips on DraftKings.
Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of the network, played down reports that ESPN was nearing a sports betting tie-up with DraftKings, saying no deal was imminent while speaking at a Sports Business Journal conference.
- Disney’s surprise ousting of CEO Bob Chapek in favor of longtime chief executive Bob Iger has put the company’s plans in flux.
- Pitaro said previously that ESPN will not receive bets, hold money, or set lines, but could push further into sports betting in other ways.
- Chapek was an advocate for making ESPN a sports betting destination, saying that younger sports fans expect it and consumers see separation between ESPN and Disney’s family-friendly image.
Activist investor Dan Loeb had pushed Disney to spin off ESPN so that it could more fully embrace sports betting.
Disney deepened its already substantial investment into streaming this week when it purchased the remaining 15% of BAMTech it didn’t already own from Major League Baseball for $900 million.
BAMTech, the core technological provider for ESPN+ and its other streaming services, was launched in 2015 as part of MLB Advanced Media.
Disney steadily grew its stake from a 33% share purchased for about $1 billion in 2016 to 75% the following year. Last year, it bought the NHL’s 10% stake for $350 million.