Media fawns over Fanatics Sportsbook in ESPN BET bout

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Fanatics Sportsbook has been touted as the more successful US sportsbook second mover against ESPN BET, according to a survey of the sports betting media. 

A survey conducted by Hot Paper Lantern revealed that the media is “bullish” on Fanatics’ growth prospects against its fellow new market entrant, owing to its strong loyalty ecosystem and product. 

One of the biggest narratives in the US sports betting industry in 2023 has been that of second movers. Fanatics began its product rollout in the second half of the year, whilst ESPN BET is set to launch in the coming weeks after Penn Entertainment ditched its Barstool venture. 

However, the survey revealed that 57% of reporters think that Fanatics’ loyalty ecosystem is a stronger user tool compared to ESPN’s user base. Though ESPN is one of the world’s largest sports media brands, Fanatics has a database of over 95 million and recently enticed bettors by offering NFL jerseys. 

65% of respondents anticipated that Fanatics has the greater chance of earning enough market share to disturb the big four operators in their current guise, compared to 35% who sided with ESPN. 

Reporters did not completely rule out ESPN’s prospects, as 70% anticipated that both new entrants could have between 11%-20% of US sports betting market share within two years. 

In a further display of bullishness, 74% of reporters stated that the big four operators – FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars – should be concerned about the new entrants gaining enough market share to damage their business. 

In particular, reporters felt it would be Caesars to feel the brunt of the damage, as 74% of respondents argued that Caesars would lose the most market share in the next two years. 

Both Fanatics and ESPN BET have outlined their ambitions to gain over 20% market share, but with BetMGM also targeting up to 25% share, there are bound to be winners and losers over the next few years in a fiercely competitive arena. 

Commenting on the survey, HPL stated: “The leading sportsbooks in America have largely gone unchanged five years after PASPA. The Big Four sportsbooks have long been FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars in terms of market share. 

While well-capitalized disruptors such as Betr and legacy players such as Hard Rock have entered the fray, it wasn’t until the announcements of Fanatics’ entrance into the market and Penn’s new partnership with ESPN, that two proportionately large and viable competitors emerged to potentially challenge the Big Four. 

“According to the media, ESPN BET may have more initial market strength and affinity because of its large userbase and notable brand over Fanatics. However, reporters are bullish on Fanatics’ future potential to carve out market share from the Big Four and acquire and retain users due to its ecommerce loyalty ecosystem.”