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Disney Searching For Sportsbook Partner to Bring Betting to ESPN

David Satin

It has been a busy news week for Disney. On Wednesday, the company announced price changes affecting all of its streaming services, including ESPN+ and Hulu that will roll out later this year. Disney also released its earnings report, which showed —among other things— that ESPN+ added over half a million subscribers in the third quarter of 2022.

The success of ESPN+ may be one of the factors driving Disney toward launching ESPN as a fully featured, standalone service. In May, Disney CEO Bob Chapek called a standalone ESPN service “the ultimate fan offering.” Chapek expanded on those thoughts during the company’s earnings call on Wednesday.

“What we’re all preparing for is the future of what ESPN would look like in a true direct-to-consumer fashion,” he said. “I think the way we’re looking at this is if we want to proactively prepare for that future without prematurely disrupting the cash flow that we get from the linear networks.”

But offering more direct-to-customer (DTC) content via ESPN isn’t the only way that Disney is looking to expand its offerings when it comes to sports. Chapek was bullish on his outlook of what sports can bring Disney as a company.

“In terms of the strategy on sports, we’re continually enamored by the power sports in terms of viewership and what it adds to our overall portfolio, particularly in an advertising type world,” he said.

That could mean bringing sports betting to ESPN sooner rather than later. Chapek was specifically asked about sports betting during the earnings call, and his answer was very direct.

“In terms of sports betting, we … have been in conversations for quite a long time now with a number of different platforms to add some utility to sports betting and take away some friction for that for our guests,” he said. “We have found that basically our sports fans that are under 30 absolutely require this type of utility in the overall portfolio of what ESPN offers.”

Chapek did not announce any potential partners for the future sportsbook venture, but did say that Disney is actively exploring its options. It shouldn’t be surprising that Disney is investigating expanding into sports betting. According to Bloomberg, the NFL expected to rake in over $270 million during the 2021 season thanks to its sportsbook partnerships.

For a long time, gambling was the third rail of sports, and it was relegated away from any legitimate discussion of pro or college leagues. However, as more and more states legalize sports gambling, leagues and broadcasters alike are looking for ways to capitalize, and it looks like the worldwide leader in sports might be the next entity to cash in its chips.

ESPN+

ESPN+ is a live TV streaming service that gives access to thousands of live sporting events, original shows like Peyton’s Place, the entire library of 30 for 30, E:60, The Last Dance, as well exclusive written analysis from top ESPN insiders.

The service can be subscribed for $9.99 / month per month or annually for $99.99 / year.

You will get a daily out-of-market game from MLB, and every out-of-market NHL with NHL Power Play (previously NHL.TV). For NFL Fans, they have an exclusive NFL game, and simulcast select Monday Football games.

The service has some of the most attractive soccer coverage including Bundesliga, LaLiga, FA Cup, UEFA Nations League, EFL Championship, EFL Carabao Cup, Eredevise and more.

College sports fans will be able to watch thousands of games and events including football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, track & field, gymnastics, swimming & diving, lacrosse, wrestling, volleyball, golf, and more.

For boxing and UFC fans, the service offers Top Rank boxing and will be the home of 15 exclusive UFC events.

ESPN+ now includes exclusive insights from analysts like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay (which used to be part of ESPN Insider), as well as premium Fantasy Tools & PickCenter.

What it does not include is most live sports that air on ESPN and ESPN2.

To get access to those channels you have to subscribe to a live TV streaming service. We suggest reading our guide on How to Watch ESPN without Cable.

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