The Athletic, BetMGM Strike Latest Betting/Media Partnership

Posted on: January 28, 2021, 10:06h. 

Last updated on: January 28, 2021, 10:52h.

BetMGM and The Athletic are teaming up in the newest agreement between a sportsbook operator and a media property.

BetMGM Athletic
The Athletic co-founders Alex Mather, left, and Adam Hansmann. Their company is teaming up with BetMGM. (Image: New York Times)

The financial terms of the pact weren’t disclosed. But BetMGM is becoming the sports outlet’s exclusive wagering partner in the US.

News of the accord comes as analysts are forecasting big growth for previously established partnerships between media firms and sports betting companies. In a recent report, Macquarie Research says such arrangements could drive as much as $30 billion worth of iGaming and sports betting revenue by 2030.

BetMGM has an existing media deal with Yahoo! Sports, one of the most heavily trafficked sports web sites in the world. The statement doesn’t mention that relationship or if there will be any impact to it as a result of the new agreement with The Athletic.

The sportsbook operator is a 50/50 joint venture between MGM Resorts International and UK-based Entain Plc. Earlier this month, the casino tried unsuccessfully to acquire Entain.

The Athletic Could Deliver Engaged Clientele

Typically, betting and media companies cite fan engagement as one of the primary reasons for forming these partnerships. The logic – and data bears it out — is that bettors tend to be more devoted watchers of sports than fans with no financial interest in the outcome of a particular game. For print and web-based properties, companies are wagering that more betting-related content will drive more eyeballs and clicks.

With The Athletic, BetMGM is hooking up with a media outlet with a presumably engaged client, because the site runs on a subscription-based model. While many old-guard media enterprises struggle with attracting paid internet clients, that’s not the case with The Athletic, as the company says it has over a million global subscribers.

It’s not immediately clear what those readers are paying. But the firm is running a “limited time offer” for new US and Canada readers at $2.99 a month.

A year ago, the media firm raised $50 million in venture funding, valuing it at $500 million. Bedrock Capital, Founders Fund, and actor Matthew McConaughey participated in that funding round.

New Jersey-based Bettor Capital, an online gaming-focused investment and consulting firm, advised on the deal with BetMGM.

Makes Sense for BetMGM

BetMGM is currently live in 10 states, a number that’s forecast to grow in significant fashion over the course of 2021.

On that note, the agreement with The Atheltic is practical because the outlet has 400 writers, many of whom focus on specific markets or teams, a la a daily newspaper’s sports section. Those journalists write an average of 200 stories per day and have 100 podcasts on the site.

The Athletic’s subscriber base of one million-plus is a rarity in the paid media industry. That’s not Netflix territory, but the sports site’s client roll compares favorably with that of the Wall Street Journal and some other, more established outlets.