ESPN boss addresses possible DraftKings deal
ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro is looking to capitalize more on the network's brand equity through betting partnerships beyond promotions, possibly licensing ESPN's brand equity to a sports book.
Why it matters: A brand licensing deal could meaningfully expand ESPN's foray into betting without going so far as facilitating actual bets.
- A recent Bloomberg report suggests a large-scale deal between ESPN and DraftKings, an existing promotions partner, is imminent.
What he's saying: "We know that our brand has a ton of credibility, a ton of trust. We are contemplating whether we should leverage our brand in that capacity," Pitaro said last week at our annual "BFD" deals conference in New York.
- "When I talk about our brand, I'm really talking about the trust and the credibility that that would convey to a sports fan. Or a fan that's looking to place a bet," Pitaro said.
- "We're not interested in being the place where people actually create their bets," he said, noting it doesn't feel appropriate for ESPN.
Asked explicitly about licensing the ESPN brand to a company like DraftKings Pitaro said, "Everything's been on the table. We've been contemplating a variety of scenarios in terms of that next step for us in that space," including more link integrations and promotion partnerships.
The big picture: It's a momentous time for dealmaking at ESPN. The company just secured, alongside Fox, a rights extension for the Big 12 conference through 2028 for a reported $2.28 billion.
- Looking ahead, ESPN and Amazon Prime remain the front runners to pick up Pac-12 rights, Sports Business Journal's John Ourand reports.
- Pitaro said coming out of the pandemic, it's "probably our most impactful string (of rights deals) in our 43-year history."
Yes, but: Pitaro acknowledged that the company can't win everything.
- In August, ESPN lost its rights to the Big 10 conference after 40 years. "They came to us and they were offering fewer games at a higher price," Pitaro said.
- Still, he noted, when the company's new SEC football rights deal begins in 2024, "we will have 64% of the college football market, which is essentially where we are today."