Pat McAfee Bids Adieu to FanDuel, Moves to ESPN

Posted on: May 16, 2023, 07:44h. 

Last updated on: May 17, 2023, 03:32h.

Pat McAfee is again making waves in the sports media world.  He announced today his eponymous show is severing ties with sports betting giant FanDuel and is heading to ESPN.

Pat McAfee
Online sports personality Pat McAfee in a FanDuel promo. He’s leaving the sports betting company for ESPN. (Image: YouTube/Pat McAfee Show)

The news comes as McAfee is in the middle of the second of a four-year, $120 million contract struck with FanDuel in December 2021. When that deal was reached, it was considered seismic by sports media industry standards. It further highlighted the intersection of media and sports wagering, though the “Pat McAfee Show” is wide-ranging and addresses much more than betting.

It’s unclear what ESPN parent Walt Disney is paying McAfee or if the company is compensating FanDuel. The former NFL punter’s show aired on YouTube and featured a FanDuel logo on the screen. The show will continue to be broadcast on YouTube, on ESPN, and on the ESPN+ streaming service.

FanDuel, the largest online sportsbook in the US, is 95% owned by Dublin-based Flutter Entertainment (OTC: PDYPY). Boyd Gaming (NYSE: BYD) owns the rest.

McAfee Could Spur Temporary Bad PR for Disney

While Disney didn’t reveal the financial details of McAfee’s move to ESPN, the entertainment is likely paying him more than he was making with FanDuel.

That means the timing of the announcement could be construed as poor because Disney recently announced 7,000 layoffs, including a reduced headcount at ESPN. That could add to Disney’s public relations headaches, which include CEO Bob Iger’s insistence on an extended spat with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) — one born out of the company opposing legislation in Florida that prevents kindergartners through third graders from absorbing sexual education materials in classrooms.

Conversely, McAfee could be worth a temporary PR sting for Disney because he has a devoted following among the younger demographics media companies and advertisers covet.

Additionally, while the “Pat McAfee Show” isn’t dedicated to wagering content, it has enough of it to potentially elevate ESPN’s sports betting footprint — something that’s long been rumored to be in the works. The former Indianapolis Colt had an existing relationship with the sports network, as he appeared on “College GameDay” and alternative broadcasts of select college football games.

For McAfee, ESPN Moves Makes Sense

In addition to a likely raise, the move to ESPN is sensible for McAfee because he owns the company that produces the show. That means a lot of time-consuming behind-the-scenes work will fall off his schedule with the move to Disney.

It’s also expected that the show’s current cast, which includes McAfee friends and former Green Bay Packer Pro Bowl linebacker A.J. Hawk, will transition to ESPN with their boss.

Following an eight-year NFL career in which he made two Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team, McAfee has been a rising force in the next generation of sports media, leveraging internet and social media avenues to boost his profile. He got his start in the arena with David Portnoy’s Barstool Sports, which today is now a unit of regional casino operator Penn Entertainment.