Sports Betting Companies Seek Content Edge

Major online sports betting operators like DraftKings, FanDuel, and ESPN Bet are aggressively pursuing content partnerships and acquisitions in an effort to differentiate themselves and attract more users in an increasingly competitive market.

Building Credibility and Brand Recognition

For years, partnerships with leading media outlets and personalities have been a key strategy for sports betting platforms to gain credibility with target audiences. Deals to align with trusted brands like ESPN give emerging gambling companies badly needed name recognition and trust at a time when the market is rapidly expanding across the U.S.

This approach seems to be paying off in customer acquisition. For example, ESPN Bet North Carolina grabbed an 8% statewide market share in its very first month after launch this past November, good for third place outright despite being the newest player in the market according to research firm Eilers & Krejcik.

Betting on Original Content

But with market leader FanDuel aggressively expanding its own streaming content network FanDuel TV, and similar pushes underway at competitors like DraftKings, retaining customers increasingly requires building direct relationships through owned and operated media channels.

DraftKings has partnered with popular sports podcasts across the spectrum and acquired gambling media outlet Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSiN) last year to bolster in-house content production capabilities. The company is also reportedly finalizing an eight-figure deal with Barstool Sports for additional marketing and collaborative content heading into this year’s Super Bowl.

Not to be outmatched, FanDuel continues expanding partnerships with the likes of The Ringer and major personalities like former NFL Network anchor Kay Adams to grow its FanDuel TV platform. The company clearly believes that proprietary content and talent relationships are vital to stand out from the crowd.

ESPN and Fanatics Up the Ante

Last November, ESPN launched ESPN Bet in North Carolina and several other newly legal state markets thanks to a $2 billion advertising commitment over 10 years by gambling operator Penn National.

Soon both ESPN and leading sports merchandise company Fanatics will offer their own real-money mobile sportsbooks across multiple states as new entrants in the market. And while Fanatics has yet to show significant interest in competing on content, ESPN boasts one of the strongest and most trusted brands in all of media.

The worldwide leader in sports is all-in on using valuable broadcast and digital content to attract bettors to ESPN Bet. And the company will almost surely look to leverage high-profile personalities like Stephen A. Smith to cross-promote its sportsbook service to huge existing audiences.

Next Test Comes in North Carolina

Industry observers are keenly interested to see how these competitive dynamics play out in new state markets like North Carolina, which opens for online sports betting on March 21st pending regulatory approvals.

All the major players are lined up to enter North Carolina on day one. And in addition to aggressively advertising major North Carolina sportsbook promos and bonuses, content offerings could be key differentiators to stand out from the pack.

Although DraftKings and FanDuel maintained a combined 69% market share across the U.S. last November, that was their lowest joint share in over a year as new entrants make inroads. Now alongside the debut of ESPN Bet, Fanatics also plans to launch its mobile sportsbook in North Carolina.

This will be the biggest test yet of whether building in-house media empires can help conquer new territories in the breakneck sports betting industry. Whichever company provides the most compelling content and viewing experience may have the edge in gaining loyal North Carolina sports betting app users in what’s sure to be an action-packed launch.

✅ Fact Checked on February 3, 2024 by Ken Weaver