Disney CEO Iger Sees Betting Coming to ESPN App

Posted on: April 7, 2024, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: April 9, 2024, 12:48h.

Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) Bob Iger sees plans for revamped ESPN app including access to sports wagering.

Disney sports betting
Disney CEO Bob Iger. He sees a revamped ESPN over-the-top-featuring sports betting access. (Image: Getty Images)

He made the comments in a recent interview with CNBC’s David Faber. Iger didn’t directly mention ESPN Bet – the network’s sports wagering partnership with Penn Entertainment (NASDAQ: PENN). The casino operator runs the app using ESPN branding.

ESPN over-the-top is going to have multiple features to it. There will be fantasy sports. There will be the opportunity to bet on sports basically right off the app,” Iger said in the app. “There will be significantly more consumer engagement opportunities.”

“Over-the-top” references the traditional ESPN product, including the cable network and the mobile app. Iger differentiated it from a planned joint venture between the network, FOX, and Warner Bros. Discovery that would aggregate a slew of sports content into a single streaming platform.

Joint Venture Could Be Ripe for Sports Betting, Too

Iger noted that what customers will get with the “flagship” ESPN over-the-top product, including possible direct access to sports betting, will differ from the network’s contribution to the joint venture.

The Disney chief executive officer did not comment on if or how sports wagering could be implemented into the partnership with the other companies. It would be a practical step because the that streaming service will bundle college sports, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, the NBA, NFL, NHL, and more.

It will be available on an assortment of networks, including ESPN+, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS, ABC, FOX, FS1, FS2, BTN, TNT, TBS, and truTV.

Making sports betting part of the streaming platform could generate conflicts due to Disney’s relationship with Penn and FOX’s ability to eventually own more than 18% of FanDuel. There have also been rumors that Warner Bros.’ TBS, TNT and truTV could forge further into the realm of sports wagering in the years ahead.

ESPN Practical Platform for Sports Betting Ties

Iger previously said ESPN will not get into the business of directly accepting sports bets. But there are avenues the network can pursue to broaden its already significant sports wagering exposure and that includes the ESPN Bet partnership with Penn.

It’s one, though still in its infancy, that appears to be paying off for both sides. To date, ESPN Bet has outperformed Barstool Sportsbook – Penn’s previous sports wagering app. Likewise, Disney has significant financial stake in the casino operator, levering it to ESPN Bet’s success.

Penn is paying ESPN $1.5 billion over 10 years to use ESPN Bet branding for that period with an option for another 10 years at the end of the initial term. The gaming company also granted the sports network $500 million in equity warrants that vest ratably over 10 years.