It’s no surprise that ESPN, the self-proclaimed “Worldwide Leader in Sports” is entering the sports betting market. ESPN Bet, after signing a $1.5 billion partnership between the sports network and Penn Entertainment, launched this week in 17 states.
Its first two days in operation set a record for most downloads, per Citizens JMP Securities. How that customer acquisition will translate into retention is now the big question for states like North Carolina.
When the North Carolina Lottery Commission finalizes the application process for sports betting operators, it is expected that ESPN Bet will be among the operators vying for an online sports wagering license in the state. Residents could get a chance to place wagers on the platform as soon as North Carolina online sports betting launches.
What will ESPN BET provide NC sports bettors?
So, what should bettors interested in NC sportsbook promos expect from the app? Last week, ESPN’s Vice President of Sports Betting and Fantasy Mike Morrison and PENN Entertainment CEO and president Jay Snowden gave a preview of the app during the ESPN Edge Conference in New York City. Creating a sportsbook app was crucial for ESPN’s plans to enter the sports betting space according to Morrison.
“This isn’t something that ESPN wants to do. This is something that ESPN has to do because sports fans are demanding it.”
The company was already providing odds in its online sports listings and tickers, but bettors had “to leave ESPN’s ecosystem and go somewhere else to place the bet,” Morrison said. Now ESPN Bet will be the network’s exclusive odds provider.
With a wealth of famous TV and radio sports talent, the first thing ESPN did to preview its app was to utilize that talent in promos. The 15-second pre-launch teaser featured sportscaster and talk show host Scott Van Pelt. At launch, Van Pelt and sports anchor Elle Duncan will be in 30-second spots promoting the ESPN Bet Brand.
Fans who already have ESPN accounts will be able to integrate them with an ESPN Bet account seamlessly. Specifically, the sports wagering app will include:
– Bet Slips.
– Deeper fantasy and prediction game integrations.
– On-platform bet tracking and following.
– Betting-focused gamecasts and streaming enhancements.
– Notifications and alerts for ESPN Bet within the main ESPN app.
– Link outs across ESPN Digital properties.
ESPN plans to market the betting app prominently across all its platforms, including segments on pre-game and studio shows. The backend of the app will use PENN’s proprietary technology.
ESPN’s internal guidelines for talent
Internally, ESPN has been training ESPN talent and production personnel, from writers to on-air personalities, on responsible gaming and warning them not to place sports bets of any kind on sports they cover. Talent and editors have been meeting for the past week to discuss rules outlined in company guidelines.
“No story should be reported, delayed, influenced or withheld with the intention of impacting betting lines,” the guidelines read. “All employees must observe the strict boundaries that the Company maintains between our journalistic enterprise and the operations of a sportsbook and should not imply any control or influence over the operations of a sportsbook.”
PENN leans on ESPN’s trust factor in launching ESPN Bet
For PENN’s Snowden, the partnership with ESPN was a match made in heaven.
“There’s only one worldwide leader in sports and so this was an opportunity of a century to be able to do this with ESPN,” Snowden said. He added that there was a trust factor with ESPN and that the plans to partner with the network came together quickly after initial talks earlier this year led to an announcement of the partnership on Aug. 8.
“What’s really different for us is this deep integration behind the number one sports media brand in the world, those sports fans who like to bet and want to bet and the trust factor. And to be able to do that seamlessly is something that we take very seriously.”