ESPN Bet is trending toward a mid-November launch, an ESPN source told LSR on Monday.
In August, Penn Entertainment struck a 10-year, $2 billion deal, via cash and stock, with ESPN for the media giant to lend its name to an online sports betting platform. Penn ended its relationship with Barstool Sports to facilitate the ESPN arrangement.
Penn CEO Jay Snowden said more vaguely at the time the company planned to transition from Barstool Sportsbook to ESPN Bet in November, “certainly before Thanksgiving.” No official date is set.
Penn: Mid-NFL season launch ‘great’
Snowden recently reiterated that launching in the middle of the NFL season would not be detrimental.
“I also think the time of year that we’re launching, mid-season, is actually great. … I think we’re going to be able to make a lot of noise, get a lot of attention. And you’re coming in at a point in the year where people have probably burned through most of their free bet promos and deposit matches and so to be able to sort of reload mid-year with a new app and new experience that’s fully integrated with ESPN, I think that speaks to top of funnel,” Snowden said.
“And based on what we’re seeing in Ontario and all the enhancements we continue to make on the product we feel really good about our ability to retain once we get people to the top of the funnel.”
What could be next for ESPN Bet
The source said ESPN is focused on launch, declining further details at the moment.
However, the company could look to provide promotional opportunities for customers with its ESPN+ streaming product.
ESPN also has multiple existing sports league rights deals. Those could be conducive to one-day having a stream with integrated bet slips, similar to the BetVision product from Genius Sports being utilized by Fanatics Sportsbook for the NFL this season.
ESPN finally embraces betting
ESPN’s venture into the space comes amid a softening in stance on sports betting from parent company Disney. In recent years, the company has been more receptive to the idea, culminating in this significant deal.
The decade-long pact between ESPN and Penn does have an opt-out after three years, should they fail to reach a market share of around 10%.