ESPN: Exploring sportsbook possibilities but no ‘imminent’ plans

Jimmy Pitaro has stated ESPN has no “imminent” plans to license its brand to a sportsbook, but it is exploring future possibilities.
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ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro stated in a recent interview that the sports network has no “imminent” plans to license its brand to a sportsbook, but the sports network is exploring possibilities as it values sports betting.

During an interview at a Sports Business Journal (SBJ) conference in New York, Pitaro was questioned about ESPN’s relationship with DraftKings. It was reported in October that the sports network was on the verge of a ‘large’ new partnership with the sportsbook.

However, there has recently been an executive change at ESPN’s parent company Disney, which could impact sports betting’s relationship with the network, as Bob Iger has returned as CEO of the corporation, replacing Bob Chapek.

Regarding a sports betting deal, Pitaro noted that no plans were “imminent” to license the ESPN brand to a sportsbook, but future relationships are being examined.

The Chairman said, according to the Hollywood Reporter: “Yes, we’ve been exploring. We’ve had conversations with all the usual suspects and [are] looking at what could be the logical next step for us.

“We are not going to, and I’ve said this repeatedly, we are not going to create a book. We’re not going to take people’s money. We are not going to set lines and spreads and odds. It’s not what we do. But the idea of leaning in a bit more here and creating a more seamless experience is something that’s definitely on the table.”

Pitaro also reflected on the value of the ESPN brand with its viewers who also wager on sports, adding that they know they need to do more in the space.

“We’ve done research and our fans like what we’re doing. They also would like more from ESPN. It’s a very attractive audience; higher net worth audience,” he added via SBJ.

“These are folks who spend a lot of time with sports, consuming games, especially on ESPN. So if you look at the research, it really tells us we can be doing more here.”

Pitaro noted that he is excited to be working with Iger again, and so should ESPN since the returning CEO has a passion for sports.

He stated: “We have a very good relationship. I trust him. I feel like he trusts me. But most important, fast forward to today in terms of looking through the sports lens, he’s just got great sports instincts. He really understands this industry.”