How Disney Ventured into Sports Betting with the Launch of the ESPN Bet App

by Abbey banji

Disney has a firm footing in the sports industry via its ESPN sports broadcasting website. Now, the company is using this brand to venture into the sports betting industry through a new partnership with Penn Entertainment.

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Disney’s ESPN Bet Bonanza: What’s the Scoop, Friends? Spill Your Thoughts!

It recently made headlines in the sports and sports betting industries when it launched ESPN Bet in November 2023. It is a big move with implications for Disney, its new partner, Penn Entertainment, and the sports betting industry. Here is everything you need to know about the ESPN Bet rollout, the deal, the new betting platform’s features, and the overall implications for the betting market.


Disney is a mass media and entertainment conglomerate launched in 1923. It engages in digital content production and entertainment across various niches, including sports. ESPN, one of the largest sports cable networks in the U.S., is 80% owned by ABC Inc., a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company. Unsurprisingly, ESPN’s wide audience is expected to give ESPN Bet an edge over the competition.

Sports betting became legal in the U.S. on May 14, 2018, when the Supreme Court annulled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA). More than 30 states have legalized sports betting, and more states are embracing and implementing the new industry.

Disney and Sports Betting: Imagine the Possibilities! What’s Your Take?

Sports betting is growing, and Disney already has a hold of the sports broadcasting industry. According to Disney CEO Bob Iger and ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro, the opportunity to engage a younger male audience and the money to be made in sports betting are too good to pass up. To this end, Disney is partnering with Penn Entertainment to venture into the sports betting industry.

The deal between Disney and Penn Entertainment is a contract for a decade. Under the deal, Disney has permitted Penn Entertainment to use its ESPN brand name on the ESPN Bet app. Moreover, ESPN will market the recently launched online sports gambling software across all its online and broadcasting platforms.

In return, Penn Entertainment will pay Disney $150 million annually for the ten-year license to operate the ESPN Bet app. Overall, the licensing deal is worth $1.5 billion, one of the reasons behind the move’s headlines. Moreover, Penn Entertainment will grant ESPN rights worth $500 to buy shares in its company – interestingly, the company’s value is expected to increase because of this deal.

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ESPN Bet App Features

The new ESPN Bet platform contains many exciting features to offer the best sports betting experience. Its most notable features include the following:

Numerous Betting Markets

ESPN Bet offers over a thousand betting markets across over 20 sports categories. The available sports categories include America’s favorite sports, including football, hockey, basketball, and baseball. It also covers other diverse sports, including soccer, boxing, MMA, tennis, and winter sports. Esports fans can also bet on Dota 2 tournaments; more e-sports categories are expected. Finally, it also offers special bets under the TV and Culture category.

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Pre-Match & Live Betting

Pre-match betting entails betting on matches before they begin. In contrast, live betting entails betting on ongoing matches. ESPN offers both betting formats, albeit live betting markets are fewer than pre-match betting.

Bonuses & Promotions

ESPN Bet offers its players several enticing bonuses and promotions. The offers have fair terms and wagering requirements. However, it is worth noting that availability may vary from one state to another.

Live Streaming

Live streaming is a convenient feature that broadcasts ongoing sports in real-time. Interestingly, ESPN Bet’s association with ESPN, the largest sports broadcaster, enables the platform to stream many matches.

Mobile Apps

Users can download mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. The apps are easy to use and contain all of the features available on the desktop website.

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Market Impact

The U.S. sports betting industry is currently worth more than $8 billion. Moreover, it is projected to grow to more than $40 billion by 2030, according to Sports Pro Media. DraftKings and FanDuel, two of the industry’s biggest sportsbooks, currently dominate over two-thirds of the market.

Disney and Penn Entertainment plan to leverage ESPN’s large sports audience to popularize the ESPN Bet platform. The marketing push will attract more people to sports betting, helping expand the market. Additionally, ESPN Bet will upset the current power balance by competing with the current players for customers.


Challenges & Risks

Disney faces various challenges and risks in its new venture. Its association with sports betting may stain its brand’s main focus on family-friendly values. To this end, a few executives and employees don’t agree with the move. Moreover, some large investors have threatened to sell some or all of their shares in the company.

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However, Disney understands the risks and challenges. To this end, it plans to counter the negative impact of sports betting using responsible gambling awareness and solutions. Moreover, it expects to make more money and engage a larger audience through its sports betting venture.

Legal challenges are also a concern. For example, ESPN Bet has only launched in 17 out of more than 30 states where sports betting is legal. However, ESPN Bet is still new and has the resources to navigate the legal system.

Future Outlook

Sports betting is a fast-growing industry, and the future appears bright for ESPN Bet and Disney. The 10-year agreement between Disney and Penn Entertainment has extension and termination clauses dependent on the company’s target. Albeit undisclosed, experts speculate that the company aims to reach at least 10% of the market over the next ten years, which would warrant an extension of the partnership.

Conclusion: Follow The DisInsider for Exclusive Disney News

Disney’s entry into sports betting is expected to shake up the industry. It will be a major competitor for the existing players, and its influence over its wide audience may attract more people to sports betting. Overall, ESPN Bet has the makings of success, thanks to Disney’s extensive marketing resources and Penn Entertainment’s sports betting logistics.

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