XLMedia scores sports betting content partnership with Star Tribune

XLMedia Star Tribune
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XLMedia has landed an exclusive sports betting content partnership with a Midwest news organization.

The digital media publisher has announced a partnership with the Star Tribune Media Company, which is the largest new organization in the Upper Midwest. As part of its deal with the Star Tribune, XLMedia will deliver commercial sports betting content to the news organization’s more than 7 million monthly users. The pact will also see XLMedia and the Star Tribune leverage a daily fantasy sports industry that sees the Minnesota market ranked top five in usage.

“We’re excited to partner with XLMedia to provide our readers with this highly engaging commercial content,” said Star Tribune EVP and CRO Paul Kasbohm. “XLMedia brings tremendous credibility and expertise, allowing us to stay ahead of the curve and offer our audience the latest information to make their own informed decisions about this rapidly evolving space.”  

XLMedia’s partnership with the Star Tribune builds on previous efforts by the London-based company to expand its North American presence. In 2020, the company paid $12 million to acquire sports betting business CBWG. XLMedia has also benefited from rev share deals.

Last December, the company informed investors that revenue from its North American operations could fail to meet full-year expectations in 2023 due to the rebranding of Barstool Sportsbook to ESPN Bet. Barstool Sportsbook was considered a “major partner” of XLMedia. The sports betting platform rebranded after former owner PENN Entertainment sold media company Barstool Sports back to its founder Dave Portnoy for a $1. XLMedia has projected lower revenue in North America due to a reduced level of customer acquisition during the transition process. The company is looking to regain profits amid ESPN Bet’s recent launch.

ESPN Bet went live with wagering on November 14, 2023, in 17 regulated sports betting markets.

No sports betting at home for the Star Tribune

A caveat to the partnership is that the Star Tribune’s home state, Minnesota, has yet to authorize regulated sports betting.

Lawmakers who advocate for sports betting in the state have failed to garner adequate support for wagering legislation. Last month, Sen. Jeremy Miller announced plans to introduce a sports betting bill with wagering tied to both tribes and professional sports teams. The forthcoming measure, “Sports Betting Act 2.0,” is scheduled to be filed when Minnesota’s 2024 session begins on Feb. 12. Its draft proposes to grant up to 11 online sports betting licenses to the state’s 11 federally recognized tribes while professional sports teams and card rooms can offer retail wagering at their venues. Both online and retail betting would be taxed at a 15% rate.

In 2022, Rep. Zach Stephenson estimated sports betting tax revenue in Minnesota could reach up to $12 million annually at a 10% rate.