William Hill is continuing its hunt for a media partner for US sports betting.
The Times of London reported over the weekend the bookmaker had been in “secret talks” for a partnership with CBS, which since fell through.
William Hill declined to comment on the specifics but a spokesperson told Legal Sports Report that finding a media partner was a “logical step” in its US sports betting expansion.
“We’ve been very clear that a media partner is a logical step for us. We’re in a very good position in the US and continuing to look at options,” William Hill director of communications Ciaran O’Brien said.
Media deals to be done for Will Hill
Hills recently upgraded its outlook for the US business to breakeven for 2019 thanks to its expansive retail estate.
Its ambitions for a media partner have been widely reported, with rivals like The Stars Group and MGM/GVC using media partnerships as one of their primary acquisition tools. The likes of 888 and Penn National are also looking for media partners.
“There’s a media deal or deals to be done,” Joe Asher, chief executive of William Hill US, told the Financial Times earlier this year. “Multiple discussions” were under way, he said.
NBC and CBS could be potential partners for William Hill, despite the Times story.
CBS said last year US sports betting was a “huge opportunity,” and it was having discussions with several partners. NBC is also talking to multiple operators.
Need for a native US brand?
Former William Hill CEO Ralph Topping told LSR the bookmaker needed to do a media deal if it wanted to catch up with the likes of FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook.
“Those are US brands and they resonate with US customers, whereas the William Hill brand is not as widely known in the US,” Topping said.
“It is a marathon, but it’s also a sprint and there is pressure to get a deal done. It’s a brave board that says ‘no, leave it’.”