The “worldwide leader of sports” is finally entering the sports betting game.
On August 8, 2023, ESPN announced that it is launching ESPN BET in partnership with Penn Entertainment. ESPN BET will replace the existing Barstool Sportsbook in the 16 states that it is live in this fall.
Penn will pay ESPN $1.5 billion over the next 10 years as a part of the deal. ESPN also has the option to purchase $500 million worth of Penn shares.
ESPN will provide Penn with “odds attribution, promotional services inclusive of digital product integrations, traditional media and content integrations, and ESPN talent access, among other services that collectively generate maximum fan awareness of ESPN BET.”
With ESPN being the biggest name in sports, we wondered how people would immediately react to the news that ESPN BET is coming soon. We surveyed 1,000 people who regularly use legal U.S. sportsbooks, asking them a series of questions about this industry-changing development.
Despite the announcement happening less than 24 hours ago and there being few details on exactly how the integration will work, it's clear that many sports bettors are eager to try out ESPN BET and think it could soon be the market leader of this booming industry.
- 54% of existing sports bettors plan to sign up for ESPN BET, while 38% are unsure and 8% will not.
- Of those who said they plan to use ESPN BET, 33% said they anticipate primarily using ESPN BET and 48% predicted they will use it about the same as their other sportsbooks. 3% said they will only use ESPN BET, 5% predicted they will use it less than their other sportsbooks, and 11% said it depends on how competitive the odds are.
- 63% of respondents said they will trust ESPN BET more than other options due to its association with ESPN, while only 4% said they will trust it less.
- 46% of sports bettors predict that ESPN BET will become the nation's most popular sportsbook within the next 3 years.
- Jump to full survey results
Analysis – Sports Bettors Want to Sign Up for ESPN BET Despite Few Details Being Released
ESPN first showed interest in joining the burgeoning sports betting industry in August 2021 when it announced that it was seeking to license its brand to a sportsbook for at least $3 billion.
Soon after they expressed interest, rumors circulated that it would partner with either Caesars or DraftKings, but those never panned out. It ended up taking two years for ESPN to strike a perhaps-surprising deal with a Penn Entertainment.
Our first question informed respondents of the deal and asked if they planned to use the just-announced ESPN BET.
As shown in the graphic above, it seems like ESPN BET will have a lot of bettors wanting to at least test it out.
Over half (54%) of respondents said they will sign up for ESPN BET while 38% are unsure—which is understandable given that the deal was just announced. Only 8% said they would not sign up for ESPN BET.
Having over half of respondents saying they will sign up for the sportsbook just a few hours after the announcement that it would be launching indicates that the ESPN name carries a lot of weight with sports bettors. Even though few details have been released about the partnership and how much of the existing sportsbook will remain the same, the majority of bettors want to at least test it out given the name.
The results of our next question also support this idea. We asked bettors if they will trust ESPN BET more than other options given the association with ESPN.
As shown, 63% of respondents said they will trust ESPN BET more than other online sportsbooks due to the association with ESPN, with 22% of that portion saying they would trust it “much more.”
Around one-third said they would trust it the same as other options while only 4% said they would trust it less.
With ESPN being the most recognized name in sports media, it's no surprise that sports bettors would trust a sportsbook featuring its name.
But how far can the name carry ESPN BET? Will they ever surpass FanDuel and DraftKings?
Our next question asked bettors their opinions on just that.
While it's impossible to figure out what kind of market share ESPN BET will have in 3 years, it's clear that sports bettors think it could be massively popular. Nearly half (46%) of respondents said they expect ESPN BET to pass FanDuel and DraftKings in the next 3 years.
Not only will ESPN BET immediately have access to at least 16 states when it launches, but Penn just fully migrated the Barstool Sportsbook app to its in-house technology, making it more stable and giving a better overall user experience. There's no doubt these changes will carry over into the soon-to-come ESPN BET.
A competitive product, unmatched brand recognition, and marketing support from one of the world's best media companies are sure to make ESPN BET a force to be reckoned with.
Maybe one day we'll see ESPN as not only the worldwide leader in sports but also the worldwide leader in sports betting.
Full ESPN BET Survey Results
Screener Question – Which of the following best describes you?
- Only accepted answer: I regularly bet on sports with a legal U.S. sportsbook (FanDuel, DraftKings, etc.)
- I regularly bet on sports with an offshore sportsbook (Bovada, MyBookie, etc.)
- I regularly bet on sports another way
- I do not bet on sports and never have
- I used to bet on sports but don't anymore
Q1. Which of the following sportsbooks do you regularly use? (Select all that apply)
- FanDuel – 67.1%
- DraftKings – 71.1%
- BetMGM – 30.9%
- PointsBet – 9.3%
- Caesars – 17.3%
- Barstool – 14.4%
- BetRivers/SugarHouse – 7.7%
- WynnBET – 7.0%
- bet365 – 10.0%
- Betway – 5.4%
- None of the above – 1.1%
Q2. ESPN just announced it is launching a sportsbook in partnership with Penn Entertainment called ESPN BET. Will you sign up for the just-announced ESPN BET?
- Yes – 53.9%
- No – 8.2%
- Unsure – 37.9%
Q3. How much do you anticipate using ESPN BET compared to other sportsbooks?
- I will only use ESPN BET – 3.0%
- I will primarily use ESPN BET but will also use others at times – 33.0%
- I will use ESPN BET about the same as my other sportsbooks – 48.1%
- I will use ESPN BET less than my current sportsbooks – 5.0%
- It depends on how competitive the lines and odds are – 10.9%
Q4. Will you trust ESPN BET more than other options due to its association with ESPN?
- Yes, much more – 21.8%
- Yes, somewhat more – 41.3%
- No, I would trust it about the same – 33.1%
- No, I would trust it less – 3.8%
Q5. Do you think ESPN BET will become the nation's biggest sportsbook within the next 3 years?
- Yes, I think it will surpass FanDuel and DraftKings – 45.9%
- No, I think FanDuel and/or DraftKings will be bigger – 38.6%
- No, I think it will be behind major players like FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, and BetMGM – 15.5%
The data from this study come from an online survey commissioned by Odds Assist and ran by online polling platform Pollfish on August 8, 2023. There were a total of 1,000 respondents from the United States aged 25 and up. A screening question was used to make sure all respondents currently regularly bet on sports with a legal U.S. sportsbook.