The biggest news in the gaming universe this month is that ESPN and PENN are teaming up to create a mobile sportsbook product that will go live sometime in November. Named ESPN BET, the betting platform is going to be available in the 16 states in which Penn Entertainment currently has an operational sportsbook in partnership with Barstool.
PENN is ditching the deal with Barstool, selling it back to Dave Portnoy, the original founder of the company. Instead, PENN will pay $1.5 billion to ESPN over the next 10 years for the rights to use the brand in the sports betting business.
In case you didn’t know, the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network a.k.a. ESPN is the most popular sports channel in the United States. Teaming up with ESPN is expected to bring huge profits PENN’s way, possibly even making the new sportsbook the most successful US gambling site in the foreseeable future.
Just one day after the news about ESPN BET broke out, the stocks of PENN jumped by 14%, suggesting that investors believe that the new sportsbook will be a successful project. PENN’s CEO Jay Snowden is one of those who have unconditional belief in the success of the project, suggesting that the two companies wouldn’t have come together if they didn’t have faith in ESPN Bet.
According to him, they’re not there “to have 4%, 5% share.” Instead, their ambitions are much higher than that, with the target being set to one-fifth of the entire US market share.
But if ESPN BET is going to become a successful business, this online sports betting platform will have to offer more to US players than its competitors. After all, most US bookmakers have been operational for years, meaning that ESPN BET will have to come up with all sorts of perks for the players in order to catch up with its competitors.
That said, American bettors have every right to expect lucrative bonuses, attractive odds, and many other benefits once ESPN BET launches. So, when’s that going to happen?
The mobile sportsbook is likely to use a similar layout to Barstool Sportsbook, which is still operated by Penn Entertainment. All of America’s favorite sports are to be covered – football, baseball, basketball, and hockey – along with a number of other sports popular in this part of the world. ESPN BET will also cover college sports in the states where such a thing is permitted by law.
The platform is also likely going to have a live betting section, where the users will be able to place in-play bets on most of the games from the offer. Among those are the games broadcasted by ESPN and/or ESPN+.
The sportsbook will also probably offer the so-called futures, which allow the customers to bet on events that aren’t on the program anytime soon. We could also see ESPN BET offer some exotic bets a.k.a. props, such as the color of Gatorade at Super Bowl, and similar.
Of course, everything’s still at the stage of speculation as we’re months away from the launch of the sportsbook. But when exactly will ESPN Bet go live?
According to PENN’s CEO, ESPN BET is expected to launch this fall. The sportsbook operator wants to launch this platform in mid-November so that the bettors would have time to place their bets for the NFL Thanksgiving action.
As a reminder, there are usually three NFL games on Thanksgiving, all of which are watched by tens of millions of Americans. Last year, for example, just under 40 million viewers watched the duel between the Dallas Cowboys and Las Vegas Raiders, which is more than the number of viewers who tuned in to watch President Biden’s inauguration ten months earlier.
This year, there are supposed to be three NFL matchups on the program – Packers vs. Lions, Commanders vs. Cowboys, and 49ers vs. Seahawks.
None of those are going to be televised by ESPN, but the company will broadcast a number of NFL games in the upcoming season.
ESPN will broadcast a number of NFL games in the 2023 season, which the channel might use to promote its new sportsbook. ESPN will get exclusive rights to broadcast (at least) one Monday Night Football game every week apart from the opening week of the regular season. ESPN will also broadcast one Wild Card game and one Divisional Round game. When it comes to ESPN+, it will get to stream one MNF game, which will probably be played outside the US.
In addition to NFL games, ESPN/ESPN+ will also broadcast many other major sports events by the end of the year, including several UFC and PFL events, two Formula 1 races (the 2023 United States Grand Prix and the 2023 Last Vegas Grand Prix), and so on.
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