Bob Chapek walks back ESPN sportsbook talk

Chapek clarifies ESPN sportsbook
Image: Shutterstock

In a Thursday interview with CNBC, Disney CEO Bob Chapek clarified his remarks about ESPN operating its own sportsbook.

The comments from D23 sent some mixed signals around just how much Disney and its sports vertical ESPN would be involved with sports betting. Chapek’s words hinted that perhaps an ESPN sportsbook was already in the works.

Chapek was abundantly clear in the CNBC discussion with David Faber.

“We’re never going to a be a book. That’s not in the cards for the Walt Disney Company.”

Disney CEO Bob Chapek

Chapek is keen on finding a sports betting partner for ESPN though, as he thinks the company can leverage its position in a way that is hugely beneficial for an operator. He also doubled down on the idea that the company is very keen on listening to what their audience wants.

“One of the things [our audience members] want is the ability to have a frictionless sports betting potential without having four screens in front of you. We at ESPN have the ability to do that.”

In other words, the comments from Chapek that ESPN was working on sports betting was more about preparing to settle with the right partner to work together on sports betting, not to become an operator itself.

Much of this conversation began when recent Disney investor Dan Loeb called for the company to spin off ESPN. At D23, Chapek noted that the company received over 100 inquiries based on that comment. His conclusion though was that these inquiries were an indication of why the asset was so valuable and worth holding onto, even if it won’t be as a sportsbook.