How Sports Betting Helped Verizon Media Pivot After Misfires

    • Verizon has expanded its betting services.
    • The online sports betting market is expected to grow to $9.2 billion by 2025.

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Things are looking up for Verizon Media Group, and sports betting has a lot to do with it.

In Q4 2020, the unit reported $2.3 billion in revenue, up 11.4% year-over-year. It was the first growth quarter for Verizon Media since it acquired Yahoo in 2017 — two years after buying a dying AOL.

The Yahoo and AOL acquisitions together cost Verizon Media $9 billion, and led to a $4.6 billion write-off in 2018 after both properties had notoriously underperformed. But now, Yahoo Sports is beginning to show its value.

Former Alibaba executive Guru Gowrappan took over Verizon Media in 2018 with hopes of reviving the unit. One of Gowrappan’s first successes was Yahoo Sports’ partnership with BetMGM, a joint venture between MGM Resorts and British gambling company Entain.

The partnership allows Yahoo users to bet on sports in eight states where BetMGM operates, within a connected ecosystem. It’s been live since 2019, and results have been tremendous for a Verizon Media looking to rebuild.

  • Yahoo Sports sent over 1 million people to BetMGM’s registration portal in 2020, per Sportico.
  • The average Yahoo Sports bettor places wagers on BetMGM at a rate that would amount to $6,000 in bets each year, according to Digiday.

BetMGM isn’t the only entity that believes in Verizon.

In February, it was revealed that, last quarter, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway invested $8.6 billion in the telecom giant’s stock.