FOX Sports has struck a long term deal with The Stars Group to launch FOX Bet as the broadcaster becomes the biggest media player so far to move into the gambling industry.
The Stars Group and FOX Sports have entered a long-term commercial agreement through which FOX Sports will provide The Stars Group with an exclusive license to use certain FOX Sports trademarks.
The move echoes the development of gambling around broadcaster Sky Sports in the UK, from which Sky Betting & Gaming became one of the biggest gambling companies in the country. However more recently another UK media giant The Sun newspaper saw its Sun Bets concept close down within a couple of years. FOX Sports, Sky Sports and The Sun are all part of the media empire of Australian mogul Rupert Murdoch. Sky Bet was acquired by the Stars Group in 2018 for $4.7bn.
Rafi Ashkenazi, Chief Executive Officer of The Stars Group said: “We believe this strategic partnership uniquely positions us to build a leading betting business in the U.S., which represents one of the most exciting long-term growth opportunities for our company.
“Leveraging our proven media partnership strategy with Sky Sports in the UK, we are excited to partner with FOX Sports to integrate wagering into sports media and drive customer acquisition and retention in the U.S.”
Eric Shanks, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Producer of FOX Sports added: “FOX Sports is already synonymous with the best live sports events in the country and now we are expanding the way we immerse fans in the sports culture they love.
“Digital sports wagering represents a growing market opportunity that allows us to diversify our revenue streams, connect directly with consumers and expand the reach of the FOX Sports brand.”
The Stars Group and FOX Sports expect to launch two products in the Fall of 2019 under the FOX Bet umbrella. One will be a nationwide free-to-play game, awarding cash prizes to players who correctly predict the outcome of sports games – echoing the immensely successful Sky Sports Super6 prediction game in the UK.
The second product, which will be named FOX Bet, will give customers in states with regulated betting the opportunity to place real money wagers on the outcome of a wide range of sporting events in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations.
In addition to the commercial agreement of up to 25 years and associated product launches, Fox Corporation will acquire 14,352,331 newly issued common shares in The Stars Group, representing 4.99% of The Stars Group’s issued and outstanding common shares, at a price of $16.4408 per share, the prevailing market price leading up to the commencement of exclusive negotiations.
The Stars Group currently intends to use the aggregate net proceeds of approximately $236 million for general corporate purposes and to prepay outstanding indebtedness on its first lien term loans. The common shares issued to Fox Corporation are subject to certain transfer restrictions for two years, subject to customary exceptions.
Under the commercial agreement, FOX Sports will grant to The Stars Group an exclusive license for the use of certain FOX Sports trademarks for a range of immersive games and online sports wagering, and certain exclusive advertising and editorial integration rights on certain FOX Sports broadcast media and digital assets.
As part of the transaction, FOX Sports will receive certain brand license, integration and affiliate fees. In addition, during the term of the commercial agreement, The Stars Group has agreed to a minimum annual advertising commitment on certain FOX media assets. Prior to the tenth anniversary of the commercial agreement, and subject to certain conditions and applicable gaming regulatory approvals, FOX Sports has the right acquire up to a 50% equity stake in The Stars Group’s U.S. business.