ESPN Strikes Sports Betting Deals, and Michael Jordan Becomes Special Advisor for DraftKings

The big news for legal sports betting in the US keeps on piling up. In another flurry of announcements in the past few weeks, two things really stood out – ESPN’s deal with Caesars / William Hill and DraftKings, and Michael Jordan joining the board of DraftKings.

The ESPN deal is a major development for the normalization of sports betting in the country and will surely bring big rewards for the two sportsbooks.

Let’s go through the details of the deal.

ESPN partners up with Caesars and DraftKings

It’s hard to think of a bigger sign of wagering on games becoming a normal part of following sports than ESPN signing betting partnerships and making odds a part of their coverage.

The sports media giant has done just that by striking deals with Caesars / William Hill and DraftKings. Under these exclusive agreements, Caesars became the odds provider for ESPN and DraftKings got the daily fantasy side of things.

In practice, the deals will mean that links to sportsbooks along with odds for games will be integrated into ESPN’s website and apps, while DraftKings will also be providing data to daily fantasy sports segments of ESPN’s studio shows. In the long run, sports betting content will definitely give more talking points and provide additional angles for analysts.

All content related to the Caesars deal will be under the William Hill brand due to the sportsbook taking over Caesars’ sports betting operations earlier this summer.

All sides should find the agreements beneficial. ESPN will receive referral fees and revenue guarantees, while DraftKings and Caesars / William Hill could probably not get similar exposure to sports fans anywhere else. Caesars already had a previous deal in place from May 2019 with ESPN for sports betting content.

The two companies currently have almost 40% of the legal sports betting market share in the US, with DraftKings accounting for 29.55% and William Hill 9.62% of the total slice of the pie (FanDuel leads the pack with a 33% market share). These deals could go a long way in making sure that the two players will keep on growing their customer base and solidifying their positions as market leaders.

This is what the CEO’s of both companies had to say about the deals:

“We are very excited to be expanding our relationship with ESPN to include deeper integration of both our sports betting and daily fantasy sports offerings across their platforms. ESPN’s reach amongst sports fans is unparalleled, and the start of NFL is the perfect time for DraftKings to be launching this integration.”

  • DraftKings CEO Jason Robins

“ESPN is one of the pre-eminent brands in sports. Tens of millions of fans will now have a direct link to our sports betting apps and odds, Giving ESPN users this access will accelerate our leadership as we continue to expand in the US.”

  • William Hill CEO Ulrik Bengtsson.

Michael Jordan becomes special advisor for DraftKings

The ESPN deal wasn’t the only big piece of recent news coming from DraftKings. The daily fantasy giant turned sportsbook announced that six-time NBA champion and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan has joined the company’s board of directors as a special advisor.

Jordan will contribute “strategic and creative insight” to the company and will receive an undisclosed equity stake in exchange.

DraftKings’ stock has been on a tear since the company went public earlier this year, and the market certainly welcomed the news with the price of the stock going up almost 10% on the day of the news release.

Jordan has gotten a lot of media attention this year due to the Netflix hit series The Last Dance, which documented his final season with the Chicago Bulls. DraftKings will not be allowed to use Jordan’s name in advertising under the deal.

Michael Jordan’s earlier business ventures include investing in SportRadar, the hugely successful betting data company. His investment in the Charlotte Hornets also looks extremely profitable. Jordan bought the team for $280 million back in 2010, while the team is currently valued at around $1.5 billion.

Jordan is the first ever billionaire athlete – his deal with Nike being the biggest contributor to that. He is known to be a notorious competitor and gambler who is willing to bet on anything – from cards to golf and everything in between.

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