One of the biggest companies in the world is looking to make their entrance into the sports betting industry. The CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Chapek, said that the company is planning to expand their reach into sports betting through ESPN.

Disney’s CEO

“We’re also moving towards a greater presence in online sports betting, and given our reach and scale, we have the potential to partner with third-parties in this space in a very meaningful way,” Chapek said on Wednesday.

“We do believe that sports betting is a very significant opportunity for the company, and it’s all driven by the consumer. It’s driven by the consumer, particularly the younger consumer that will replenish the sports fans over time and their desire to have gambling as part of their sports experience.”

According to Forbes, Disney had a soft year, which means that they reported earnings under Wall Street’s expectations. However, sports bring in a huge chunk of revenue, especially this year. Subscribers to ESPN+ increased by 66%, 90% of the most-watched broadcasts on Disney’s owned TV networks last year were sporting events, and Disney recently signed a 10-year NFL rights deal that begins in two years, in 2023.

Looking for Younger Audience

The main motivation behind stepping into the sports betting industry is attracting a younger audience. If Disney’s consumers are interested in sports betting, then so should Disney.

Chapek made this announcement on Wednesday, but he did not provide any details on how the company plans on making their way into the sports betting industry and market. However, he did say that he doesn’t think that entering this market will have any sort of negative impact on Disney’s reputation and brand as a family company and organization.


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“It actually strengthens the brand of ESPN when you have a betting component, and it has no impact on the Disney brand,” Chapek said, “Therefore, to go after that demographic opportunity plus the, of course, not insignificant revenue implications, that is something that we’re keenly interested in and are pursuing aggressively.”

Through ESPN, Disney has already begun to dip their toe into the sports betting industry and market. In 2020, ESPN signed deals with Caesars Sportsbook and DraftKings sportsbook, in which links to these sportsbooks were available on the ESPN website.

Caesars or DraftKings

According to Forbes, the Wall Street Journal reported in August of 2021 that ESPN is currently exploring a potential brand licensing deal with either Caesars or DraftKings that could possibly be worth $3 billion.

It seems like the stigma around sports betting and gambling has begun to diminish in the United States, especially when big companies and professional sports teams are signing brand deals and partnerships with them.

Since they own 80% of ESPN’s stock, it is only natural that Disney as a company starts pursuing their own journey into the sports betting industry. It looks like it is not yet known when or how this journey will begin, but it seems like it’s going to happen. It’s only a matter of time.

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Allyson Park is a sports writer and media content creator at Knup Solutions. She covers a variety of sports, including football, soccer, basketball, and baseball. She is currently a student at Virginia Tech majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in creative writing. Her favorite sports to watch are NFL football and women's soccer. After graduating, she hopes to enter the sports journalism industry and provide a unique angle and perspective on sports as a woman of color.

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