The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek is hoping to bring Disney into the world of sports betting through ESPN in an effort to attract younger audiences and create new revenue.
Chapek said on the most recent fourth-quarter earnings call that Disney must “seriously consider getting into gambling in a bigger way, and ESPN is a perfect platform for this.”
The Wall Street Journal reported this summer that ESPN was looking into brand licensing deals with Caesars Entertainment and DraftKings, after already striking a deal to link to their sportsbooks from ESPN.com in 2020.
According to Chapek, Disney is “moving towards a great presence in online sports betting, and given our reach and scale, we have the potential to partner with third-parties in this space in a very meaningful way.”
“It’s driven by the consumer,” he said, “particularly the younger consumer that will replenish the sports fans over time and their desire to have gambling as part of their sports experience.”
Chapek did not elaborate on how they would enter the gambling market. He did say that he’s not worried about ruining the Disney brand.
“Gambling does not have the cachet now that it had, say 10 or 20 years ago,” he said, “and we have some concerns as a company about our ability to get in it without having a brand withdrawal. But I can tell you that given all the research that we’ve done recently, that that is not the case. It actually strengthens the brand of ESPN when you have a betting component, and it has no impact on the Disney brand. Therefore, to go after that demographic opportunity plus the, of course, not insignificant revenue implications, that is something that we’re keenly interested in and are pursuing aggressively.”