Disney is contemplating going into sports betting but is yet to decide how it will do it and which platform it will use. During the press conference about Disney’s third-quarter results, Disney CEO Bob Chapek told a Bank of America analyst that sports betting has been on the cards for the company for a long time. According to Chapek, as the owner of ESPN, Disney had to offer the ability to place wagers to its sports fans.

Reports previously said that the media and entertainment conglomerate might acquire Australian sports betting provider PointsBet or New York-listed Rush Street Interactive. However, Disney didn’t manage to negotiate a deal with either one of these companies so the $303-billion media giant will probably look elsewhere and investigate other alternatives.

ESPN’s Viewers “Absolutely Require” the Wagering Functionality

Responding to Jessica Reif Ehrlich, Chapek said that they have had conversations about sports betting “for quite a long time” and looked into acquiring or partnering with several different platforms.

Disney owns ESPN, the top US sports broadcaster, but lacks the sports betting functionality and cannot offer sports fans the chance to place bets on the NFL and NBA games it broadcasts.

Chapek thinks that this is a serious handicap for the company. During the conference, he said that ESPN’s under-30 sports fans “absolutely require” the ability to place bets and that sports betting should be included in the overall ESPN portfolio.

Disney’s CEO was clear to say, however, that the company was “working hard on it” and that they were hoping they would be able to announce something concrete pretty soon. 

Chapek hinted that they will look into forming a partnership with an established sports betting brand that would allow them to access the sports betting revenue stream.

Disney Will Leverage the ESPN Brand to Enter the Sports Betting Industry

Even though Disney is yet to go into sports betting, ESPN has multi-year deals with US betting and gaming companies. It has partnerships with Caesars Entertainment and DraftKings and also airs betting-related shows.

Disney also holds a 6 percent stake in DraftKings. The company got to own DraftKings equity after it acquired 21stCentury Fox in 2019.

However, analysts expect that Disney will use the ESPN brand to enter the sports betting industry in a more fitting fashion for a media giant and leverage the network’s position to make a big impact on the sports betting scene. 

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