Early Entrants: Sports Business “Rumblings” Before the News Breaks
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1. Disney Exploring Entrance to the Sports Betting Space
The Walt Disney Company (DIS) is exploring avenues to enter the sports betting space, reportedly modeling several consumer facing strategies (see: ESPN+ integration or standalone product) that would allow for the roll-out of a gambling product without tarnishing their family friendly brand. We’ve seen this strategy from DIS before, back in ’89 Michael Eisner introduced Hollywood (and Touchstone) Pictures so that the company could produce films for a mature audience.
2. Endeavor IPO?
There is heavy speculation that Endeavor (formerly WME-IMG) could file for an IPO in 2019. The company isn’t struggling, but after investing $4 billion on the UFC, $1 billion on Serie A rights and $150 million to acquire NeuLion, there appears to be a need for cash to pursue additional acquisitions and to fund their growth initiatives.
3. SEC Football to Remain on CBS
Despite stories to the contrary, rumblings indicate that CBS is close to extending their current pact (runs through ’23) with the Southeastern Conference. Their current deal with the conference is amongst the most favorable in sports, with the network paying just $55 million for 15 games (including the SEC championship game); for comparison purposes, ESPN pays the NFL $110 million/MNF game. Don’t be surprised if company overpays to land a secondary SEC game of the week on CBS Sports Network.
4. Eleven Sports Network Close to Collapse
Eleven Sports Network is said to be on the brink of collapse in US, UK, Taiwan, and Singapore as corporate losses continue to pile up. The company’s inability to gain traction with subscribers and its failure to find carriage with established cable providers has Eleven Sports unable to cover the costs of the broadcast rights they’ve acquired; some false hubris amongst high-level decision makers hasn't helped matters.
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