When you think of the word “Disney”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Chances are first thoughts surround Mickey Mouse, Dole Whips, Space Mountain, and more. Well, it’s time to place a wager, as Bob Chapek pushes plans for “The Happiest Place on Earth” to add sports betting to its repertoire.
The Walt Disney Company recently discussed its fiscal year and fourth-quarter financial results. The Disney Park revenue is continuing to grow after the COVID-19 pandemic with strong numbers in the $640 million range. We also learned that Disney Guests are spending more now compared to pre-pandemic days.
On the streaming front, the company saw a 66% increase in ESPN+ subscribers over the fiscal year with 90% of the most-watched broadcasts falling into the sports category. But, it doesn’t seem like those financial feats are enough for Disney CEO Bob Chapek.
According to Forbes.com, Chapek has announced the Walt Disney Company is looking to expand into sports betting with its ESPN platform. During the fourth-quarter earnings call, Chapek stated,
“We’re also moving towards a greater presence in online sports betting, and given our reach and scale, we have the potential to partner with third-parties in this space in a very meaningful way.”
“We do believe that sports betting is a very significant opportunity for the company, and it’s all driven by the consumer” “It’s driven by the consumer, particularly the younger consumer that will replenish the sports fans over time and their desire to have gambling as part of their sports experience.”
Is gambling the way to reach the younger audience and generate new revenue? Bob Chapek believes so as he notes Disney must “seriously consider getting into gambling in a bigger way, and ESPN is a perfect platform for this.”
It’s not a matter of IF Disney will be getting involved in sports betting but more a question of WHEN and HOW. Disney’s sports betting platform has already begun as the company partnered with sports betting companies in 2020 including, Caesars Entertainment and DraftKings.
The fourth-quarter earnings call confirms Disney’s desire to use the ESPN platform for sports betting. The regular mention of it from Chapek shows Disney’s involvement in the sports gambling arena isn’t going away any time soon.
Is Disney and/or ESPN’s reputation on the line if they dabble in sports wagering? Chapek thinks not.
“Gambling does not have the cachet now that it had, say 10 or 20 years ago, and we have some concerns as a company about our ability to get in it without having a brand withdrawal,” said Chapek. “But I can tell you that given all the research that we’ve done recently, that that is not the case. It actually strengthens the brand of ESPN when you have a betting component, and it has no impact on the Disney brand. Therefore, to go after that demographic opportunity plus the, of course, not insignificant revenue implications, that is something that we’re keenly interested in and are pursuing aggressively.”
What do you think? Are you ready to place a wager and see Disney enter into the sports betting platform?