Wednesday, September 16, 2020 / by Ken Couture
Caesars Entertainment Inc. has partnered with one of the world’s largest sports entertainment brands: ESPN.
The new multiyear partnership will tie ESPN’s digital platforms to sportsbooks from Caesars’ sports betting partner, William Hill, according to a Monday news release.
ESPN.com’s web and mobile app and the ESPN Fantasy app will include link integrations to William Hill’s sports betting apps, which will be geo-targeted to states with legalized sports betting.
The partnership also makes Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill a sponsor of ESPN Fantasy products, “deepening an existing relationship as ESPN’s exclusive odds provider,” according to the release.
Ulrik Bengtsson, William Hill’s group chief executive, said the partnership is expected to accelerate the sports betting company’s leadership as it continues to expand across the U.S., providing “tens of millions of fans” a direct link to the company’s sports betting apps and odds.
This isn’t the first partnership between Caesars and ESPN; last month, an ESPN studio launched inside Caesars’ Linq Hotel. Caesars sports branding and sports betting data — including odds — had also already been integrated across ESPN’s programming.
“With Caesars utilizing odds from William Hill’s sports betting data, we are able to deliver content in new and innovative ways,” Mike Morrison, ESPN’s vice president of business development and innovation, said in the release. “Our multi-dimensional relationship is a testament to the growth and opportunity in the sports betting space.”
Deutsche Bank Research analyst Carlo Santarelli said the deal aligns Caesars with a partner with “far and away the largest monthly active user base of dedicated sports followers” in the country. He believes ESPN had roughly 95.5 million monthly unique visitors through its digital channels in 2019.
“We think it goes without saying that aligning with the nationwide leader in sports … was of critical importance to (Caesars), given the importance of monetizing the value of (its) brand, its large Total Rewards database, and its other sports related assets,” Santarelli said in a Monday note.
The deal comes shortly after Caesars’ $17.3 billion merger with Eldorado Resorts Inc. in July, which cemented William Hill as the exclusive sports betting operator for the combined company. Since then, the sports betting company has opened 12 branded sportsbooks at Caesars’ properties in Nevada, Iowa and New Jersey.
It plans to rebrand Caesars’ remaining sportsbooks “in the coming weeks” and launch Caesars Sports by William Hill, a mobile sports betting app, in Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Nevada “soon,” pending regulatory approval. After these expansions, William Hill is set to operate more than 170 retail locations in 13 states.
“As our exclusive sports betting operator, William Hill has added immediate value to Caesars Entertainment’s portfolio of properties nationally,” Caesars CEO Tom Reeg said. “Our new agreement with ESPN, as the largest provider in sports content, completes what is sure to be a momentous partnership in gaming and sports wagering.”
Jefferies analyst James Wheatcroft believes that this deal will further increase London-based William Hill’s brand recognition in the U.S., especially considering it also recently launched a partnership with CBS Sports.
“Momentum is building in the USA,” Wheatcroft said in a Monday report.
ESPN also announced a multiyear agreement with DraftKings Inc. on Monday, which would also connect ESPN’s fans to the Boston-based sports betting operator through link integrations and make DraftKings ESPN’s exclusive daily fantasy sports and co-exclusive sportsbook link-out provider.
Caesars shares closed up 10.5 percent Monday at $55.39 on the Nasdaq. DraftKing shares were up 17.3 percent to $48.62 on Nasdaq.
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