New Action Network will provide DFS and sports betting analytics
Legal Sports Report

Barstool Sports Parent Company Gets Into Sports Betting, Fantasy With Content Acquisitions

Sports betting Chernin Group
The parent company of Barstool Sports is getting into the sports betting and daily fantasy sports industries.

The Chernin Group — which owns the popular sports blog — acquired a trio of companies that provide content and analytics for sports betting and fantasy sports.

That includes Fantasy Labs, in which Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was an investor.

The Chernin Group, sports betting and DFS

The company announced that it purchased three companies on Tuesday:

  • The aforementioned FantasyLabs
  • Sports betting analytics companies Sports Insights and SportsAction.

The companies will be housed as a single entity called the Action Network. Chad Millman, once of ESPN, was installed as head of content for the new endeavor.

According to an announcement on the acquisitions, Chernin relayed that it “is also making a primary capital investment into The Action Network to build out the management team and brand as it aims to offer an all-encompassing subscription and editorial platform for those who speculate on sports and fantasy players of all types.”

“This market is immensely valuable and growing by the day, yet there is a real lack of professionalized resources and infrastructure,” Chernin President of Digital Mike Kerns said. “Now with The Action Network, we have an opportunity to couple superior technology, data, and analytics tools with informative and entertaining premium content to offer a user-friendly platform that super-serves today’s sports speculators.”

Content is king in sports betting, fantasy

While it’s one thing to provide the action in DFS and sports betting, there is and will continue to be a huge market for content serving both spaces.

There is already a massive offshore sports betting industry that serves the US. Sports betting content exists throughout the American market despite the fact that single-game wagering is only available in Nevada.

ESPN commonly includes information about sports wagering on its broadcast and digital platforms, for example. The Vegas Sports Information Network launched earlier this year to help capture the interest in sports wagering.

“I’ve long believed in the power of the conversation that flows from betting and fantasy, because those are the prisms through which so many fans watch sport,” Millman said. “And that audience is only going to grow. This is a total thrill.”

The Action Network also presents the possibility of creating further engagement for and integration with the core and growing audience of Barstool Sports.

Getting ready for the future of sports betting

Despite the huge current market, the launch of this new sports betting and DFS endeavor is banking more on the future.

The New Jersey sports betting case looms in the US Supreme Court. A decision for NJ in that case could open up states to the possibility of legalizing and regulating sports wagering. Dozens of states would seek to legalize sports gambling in that scenario, creating a market with billions in possible revenue.

Lawmakers, operators and gaming companies are in some cases scrambling to get ready for that reality in terms of offering sports betting products. In tandem, you’ll be seeing more and more people looking to capitalize on that market in other ways, like Chernin is doing here.

The fantasy angle

That a DFS analytics platform is a part of the Action  Network certainly demonstrates that Chernin has high hopes for that vertical — or at least the content and people behind it.

Sites offering analytics, data and advice about DFS easily outnumber platforms like FanDuel and DraftKings that offer contests. DFS, of course, is more widely available as a legal product already in the US; 16 states have passed laws regulating or legalizing it explicitly.

“One of our initial goals was to prove a concept — the viability of premium DFS analytics and tools — that is applicable to a larger market: hardcore bettors, casual fantasy players, and anyone else who watches sports with something on the line,” Fantasy Labs co-founder Jonathan Bales said in a coinciding announcement.

“We’re very confident they (The Chernin Group) have the resources, experience, and (most important) the right kind of people to allow The Action Network to flourish.”

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Dustin Gouker
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Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer — including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.