ESPN Bet Set To Enter NC With Improved App Offerings

With a rebranding of its online sports betting platform after sealing a partnership with Disney-owned ESPN, Penn Entertainment projects a rosy outlook for 2024.

During an earnings call on Thursday, the company revealed plans to ramp up features in the ESPN Bet app and expressed optimism ahead of a North Carolina online sports betting launch next month.

ESPN Bet went live in November in 17 states, three months after Penn and ESPN announced a $1.5 billion deal that gave the operator exclusive rights to the sports media conglomerate’s brand. Penn president and CEO Jay Snowden said that the “launch resulted in much higher than expected registrations, generating over 1 million new sign-ups to our industry-leading PENN Play Rewards program and expanding our digital database by over 50%.”

“In fact, we acquired as many first-time depositors and betters in the first two months as we had anticipated we would generate in the first full year post-launch.”

Improvements on the way for ESPN Bet

Growth in the ESPN Bet customer base came from adding “new features and integrations” said Snowden. No other sportsbook has the advantage of offering access to ESPN’s sprawling media footprint from within an app.

In January, app users gained access to odds integration that enabled a seamless click-through from ESPN Gamecast to the desired bet page in ESPN Bet. This allows bettors direct access to betting from the main ESPN app and website. Snowden said that the next step for Penn is to “focus more of our product and engineering teams’ energy on product improvements, especially in the areas of same-game parlays, player props and live betting as opposed to time-consuming migrations and launches.”

“The important takeaway here is the ESPN BET app is proving to be sticky in the early days as a result of our strong brands and UI, UX which will improve from here with product enhancements and deeper integrations with ESPN in the coming quarters.”

Last week, during Disney’s earnings call, the media giant outlined ambitious plans for making its nearly 26 million subscribers aware of ESPN Bet via digital integrations across the full suite of ESPN channels.

Snowden summarized Penn’s unique position as a partner to ESPN.

“We are the only company in the industry that has a fully integrated sports media and sports betting platform along with an omnichannel base of assets with which to drive cross-play and synergies as the database continues to grow at a rapid pace. The future looks very promising given our unique position and long-term strategic advantages.”

A new joint streaming service with Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery set to launch in the fall will also give ESPN Bet more eyeballs.

Per Snowden, the venture is “about getting in more households and on more devices as people have continued to move away from cable.”

No bumps are expected for NC launch

Given the track record of ESPN Bet so far, Penn execs expect a smooth entry into the North Carolina online sports betting market, scheduled to go live on March 11.

“Our early success bodes well for our planned launches in North Carolina and New York this year,” Snowden said. Penn acquired a New York sports betting license via Wynn Interactive for $25 million and expects to expand to the Empire State ahead of the 2024 football season.

However, even with the rosy outlook from executives, the company’s share price dropped this week as the earnings call and announcement also revealed that Penn posted a wider-than-expected loss. Snowden attributed that ding to higher promotional expenses associated with the ESPN BET launch which affected net revenue.

Which other Operators are due to launch in North Carolina on March 11, 2024?

While we won’t know 100% until closer to the launch we have a good idea of what US sports betting operators will have their ducks in order for the launch of the first NC sportsbook apps. We expect the blow sportsbook operators to be operational in the Tar Heel State:

About the Author

Cheryl Coward

Cheryl Coward started her career as a news reporter in Washington, DC. She's a die-hard women's basketball fan and founded the website as a result of that passion. She loves writing about sports on all levels and has previous experience covering sports betting regulations, operator marketing campaigns and women's sports gambling topics.