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Everything Sports Betting ‘On The Table’ For ESPN Including Sportsbooks

The company has been making a strong push into the sports gambling space over the past few years.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: ESPN

Placing bets on Monday Night Football while watching SportsCenter at an ESPN sportsbook? that could all soon be a reality according to Front Office Sports. Sources have told FOS that ESPN is “all-in” on sports betting. “Everything’s now on the table at ESPN,” one source said to FOS. “They’re exploring everything.”

Connecticut, home to ESPN headquarters, recently legalized sports gambling, and the states’ casinos could start to offer legal wagers in time for football season. Pair that with ESPN’s big investments into sports gambling programming, and bettors could soon be able to place wagers on an ESPN sportsbook. 

In the last year alone, ESPN has signed advertising deals with DraftKings and Caesar’s Entertainment. They have bulked up the talent pool on their flagship gambling program, “Daily Wager,” and promoted executive Mike Morrison to the new title of vice president, sports betting & fantasy to lead the company’s charge in sports betting. Morrison previously served as VP of business development and innovation.

FOS picked the brain of former Fox executive Patrick Crakes on what all of these moves could spell out.

“Right now, we don’t even have legalized gambling in all 50 states, and while the sponsorship value is clearly incremental, it’s far from clear just how big this can get despite the optimism,” Crakes said. “Remember, it’s not like the equity of casino companies have been sure-fire winners over the past couple decades. There’s also the question of just how large gaming will get with the general market sports viewing/fan.”

Crakes said slow growth in this space is the key to a potential sportsbook landing on the ESPN2 success meter and not flub out like their foray into restaurants and cell phones.

“Not hurrying would seem to be the right call and in the future you can enter into larger deals where you don’t have to take as much risk to get the benefit of ownership without the headache of operations and assumptions about future market segment size, there’s precedent here on the radio side of the business, for example, with FOX Sports Radio. It’s a licensing deal with Premier Radio Networks but is also a revenue share above a certain level of defined net operating income.”

Sports TV News

3.72 Million Tune In To See LeBron James Break Scoring Record

Jordan Bondurant

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Getty Images

Lakers star LeBron James surpassed the NBA’s all-time scoring record on Tuesday night, and TNT benefitted from the milestone ratings wise.

According to Sports Media Watch, Tuesday night’s game averaged 2.98 million viewers. That figure made it TNT’s biggest regular season audience in over two years.

The broadcast peaked at 3.72 million around 11:45 p.m. when James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the record.

Reporting also indicated that the game was the number one single-network program on TV in key demographics.

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Sports TV News

Disney Makes ESPN Independent Division In Corporate Restructuring

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN

Disney is in the process of reorganizing and restructuring the company, and details have emerged about the company’s plans for ESPN.

Deadline reported on Wednesday that ESPN will be one of three standalone segments comprising Disney. Entertainment and Parks, Experiences & Products are the other two segments.

The reorganization comes amid the exit of former CEO Bob Chapek and the re-entry of CEO Bob Iger. As one of Iger’s first moves back running Disney, he announced a restructuring of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.

It was also reported that Jimmy Pitaro will continue as the president of ESPN.

In total, more than 7,000 jobs will be eliminated after the restructuring.

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Sports TV News

Roger Goodell: ‘Wouldn’t Surprise Me’ To See Thursday Night Football Move to Flex Scheduling

“Not today, but it’ll certainly be something that’s on our horizon.”

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Thursday Night Football

In 2023, Monday Night Football will join Sunday Night Football in having the ability to flex NFL games into its window. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday Night Football could someday join that elite club.

During his “State of the League” speech Wednesday, Goodell said Thursday Night Football having the ability to flex matchups “wouldn’t at all surprise me”.

“Not today, but it’ll certainly be something that’s on our horizon,” the NFL Commissioner said.

ESPN bargained for the ability to move higher profile games into Monday Night Football during its negotiations with the league for the next television contract that begins this upcoming season.

NBC has long held the ability to shift a select number of games from earlier windows into the Sunday Night Football primetime slot.

Amazon Prime Video just completed the first of an 11-year contract that sees the streaming platform spend nearly $1 billion per year on the Thursday Night Football package.

One of the largest storylines of Amazon’s debut season with the NFL was the near-constant ridicule from play-by-play announcer Al Michaels over the lackluster TNF schedule. Michaels made headlines over several weeks for his candor on the lack of interesting matchups, going as far as to joke that if the schedule didn’t improve he would retire.

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