The business outlook for ESPN looks even more lucrative the day after its historic move into sports betting.
Despite ESPN’s 10-year, $2 billion deal with PENN Entertainment to create “ESPN Bet,” the sports media giant will still be able to accept advertising from other sports betting platforms.
The ESPN-PENN deal is non-exclusive from an advertising standpoint, sources tell Front Office Sports. That means ESPN can collect lucrative ad revenue from the likes of DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesars Entertainment.
However, like league deals with official sponsors, only PENN can claim exclusive rights to the ESPN Bet trademark over the next decade.
With PENN wielding full operational control, ESPN Bet will also get access to ESPN talent and programming — with the notable exception of “Insiders” such as Adam Schefter, Adrian Wojnarowski, and Jeff Passan.
In 2020, ESPN signed co-exclusive, multi-year deals with DraftKings and Caesars but is expected to phase out those deals to pave the way for ESPN Bet’s official launch this fall.
During an earnings call Wednesday, PENN chief executive officer Jay Snowden did not comment directly on whether ESPN could pocket ad dollars from other sportsbooks.
“This is not a typical media sportsbook commercial agreement. This is an exclusive and comprehensive alliance that will redefine the sports betting landscape with a highly aligned partner that long-term, like us, wants to see ESPN Bet at the top,” he said.
ESPN declined to comment on Wednesday.
But former ESPNer Darren Rovell of Action Network tweeted that PENN’s deal does not come with exclusive advertising privileges.
When one of his Twitter followers asked why, Rovell replied: “Because they don’t get a piece of bets and, at $150 million a year, Penn isn’t paying enough for an exclusive. It’s really a licensing deal to use their name for the betting app. It isn’t a joint venture with an incentivized earnout.”
– Front Office Sports newsletter co-author David Rumsey contributed to this story.