Monday December 4, 2023

Sports Betting Is Changing the Media Landscape

  • Legacy networks like ESPN are starting to play in the betting arena.
  • FanDuel, DraftKings are hiring sports media personalities and creating their own content.
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports/Design: Alex Brooks
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Sports media and sports betting are converging, and it’s impacting the world’s media outlets.

With gaming giants like FanDuel and DraftKings hiring sports media personalities and creating their own content, popular network insiders like Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski could be in their crosshairs. 

“If I’m ESPN, I’m more worried about FanDuel and DraftKings stealing my talent than CBS,” said one talent agent.

With sports betting legalized in 25 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., legacy networks like ESPN are starting to play in the betting arena, experimenting with gambling-focused studio shows and alternative telecasts. 

We’re actively looking into the marketplace now,” FanDuel’s chief marketing officer, Mike Raffensperger, told FOS. “It is absolutely part of the strategy if we want to continue to grow the No. 1 sports book in the country.” 

Recent deals further illustrate the trend: 

  • DraftKings bought VSiN, then forged a $50 million content deal with ESPN veterans Dan Le Batard and John Skipper of Meadowlark Media.
  • Bally’s Corp. rebranded 19 regional sports networks as “Bally’s Sports” via a 10-year, $85 million deal.
  • Penn National Gaming bought 36% of Barstool Sports for $163 million.  

Startups appear to have the advantage here. 

“It’s easier to go from operator to media company than it is to go from media company to an operator,” said Chad Millman, chief content officer at The Action Network, which was just acquired by Better Collective for $240 million. 

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