XL Media hurt by Barstool Sportsbook closure, hopes for ESPN BET boost

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XL Media has informed investors that North American revenues will fall below full-year expectations and forecasts but looks ahead to new opportunities in the new year. 

Providing a trading update for 2023, the affiliate marketing publisher explained that a reduced level of customer acquisition throughout the year from operators has damaged its topline for 2023. 

Namely, XLM referred to the withdrawal of Barstool Sportsbook as a key driver for revenue declines, given that PENN’s former sportsbook brand was “a major partner”. 

Explaining that the loss of Barstool and the transition to ESPN is a change in revenue profile in North America, XLM noted that there is a strong opportunity for it to gain revenue from ESPN BET and noted that it anticipated “a strong close to the year”. 

Nevertheless, this only glosses the fact that 2023 has been a tough year for the affiliate as it looks towards North America as a key region, but a lack of state launches created difficult market conditions. 

The firm noted: “While there is still opportunity to generate significant revenues in the remainder of the year now that December acquisition budgets have been confirmed, it is now unlikely that this will fully compensate for mid-period shortfalls and, consequently, North American revenues will now fall below previous forecasts.”

Adjusting its full-year projections, XLM now anticipates revenue to be in the range of $50-$52m while adjusted EBITDA is expected to be $12-$14m. 

Looking ahead to 2024, the firm aims to continue building up its North American brands and media partner footprint to secure an upwards trajectory.