Shares of DraftKings (DKNG) and Caesars jumped as much as 12% and 7% respectively Monday on the multi-year agreement with the sports network, in which ESPN’s website will link exclusively to the two companies’ sportsbooks.
DraftKings will also be ESPN’s exclusive daily fantasy sports provider, powering content including fantasy sports segments on the network’s top studio shows.
Mike Morrison, ESPN’s vice president of business development and innovation, called the deals “the next significant milestone for ESPN to diversify our exposure and deepen our commitment in the sports betting space.”
For DraftKings, it’s an opportunity to reach a broader audience: “ESPN’s reach amongst sports fans is unparalleled, and the start of NFL is the perfect time for DraftKings to be launching this integration,” said Jason Robins, the co-founder and CEO of DraftKings.
Last week marked the return of the NFL, the most popular sports league in America, alongside the ongoing seasons of the NBA, MLB and NHL.
Meanwhile, Caesars’ deal follows ESPN’s announcement last year that it was partnering with the gambling company to build a new studio at its LINQ Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The studio, which serves as the network’s hub for sports-betting content, launched last week.
Gambling, which was once a huge taboo for sports networks, has become the norm after the Supreme Court struck down a ban on betting in 2018. The ruling has cleared the way for several states to legalize sports betting — and for gambling companies and networks like ESPN to reap the benefits.
Other sports media companies like Turner Sports, which like CNN is owned by WarnerMedia, have also jumped on the gambling bandwagon with gaming content and a Bleacher Report branded studio within Caesars Palace. Fox Sports went as far as to help facilitate sports bets with its new app, Fox Bet.