Disney-owned ESPN is in talks with sports gambling giants Caesars Entertainment and DraftKings to license its brand to one of them, with the winner of the bidding potentially naming its sportsbook after the sports broadcaster in a deal worth at least $3 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The deal would allow ESPN to get in on the lucrative sports betting market without opening and operating a sportsbook on its own, the Journal said, though it noted the talks could fall through.
DraftKings declined to comment when contacted by Forbes, while Caesars has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Markets reacted strongly to the news, with shares of Caesars rising 4.25% Friday to close at $104.24, while Disney rose 2.03% to $180.14 and DraftKings climbed 3.72% to $60.01.
ESPN already has close ties with both Caesars and DraftKings, establishing a marketing deal with both companies in September 2020 that set DraftKings as ESPN’s exclusive daily fantasy sports provider and Caesars as ESPN’s exclusive odds provider. The sports media giant also opened an ESPN studio at the Caesars-owned Linq Hotel on the Las Vegas strip in August 2020. ESPN has increasingly committed to providing sports betting content, including the Daily Wager television show, which is filmed at the Linq and airs on ESPN+, its paid subscription division.
$44 billion. U.S. gambling revenue is set to surpass $44 billion in 2021, which would be the most lucrative total ever.