Disney is working to expand into sports betting

September 14, 2022
CEO Bob Chapek said Sunday that the mass media conglomerate is “working very hard” to expand into sports betting, readying itself to disrupt an already saturated marketplace.
Sports Biz
SOURCE: PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: Disney is wishing upon a star. CEO Bob Chapek said Sunday that the mass media conglomerate is “working very hard” to expand into sports betting, readying itself to disrupt an already saturated marketplace.

The details: Chapek said a wagering platform would meet demand from sports fans under the age of 35, while also (hopefully) ending some internal Disney drama. Activist investor Dan Loeb, who holds a $1 billion stake in the company, notably dropped his campaign to spin off ESPN the very same day.

The women’s sports angle: One popular ESPN property could potentially be a major player on the company’s sports betting platform — you guessed it, the WNBA. On Sunday, commissioner Cathy Engelbert said that the number of bets placed on the league jumped 270% YoY, and that the W would “love” to partner with more sportsbooks.

  • Engelbert’s observations on the consumer base match Chapek’s — she described WNBA bettors as younger and digital-savvy. The commissioner also said that the figure reflects an industry-wide rise in wagers placed by women.

Zooming out: The move could help Disney retain the particularly engaged millennial fan — 42% of fans aged 28 to 41 describe themselves as sports fans, well above the 33% of those aged 42 to 57. Older millennials are also the most active sports bettors, as 15% say they make wagers once a week.

  • As Gen Zers become old enough to legally place wagers, sports betting could be an avenue to translate their gaming preferences into sports fandom. Watch this, ahem, space.
Sports Biz