Bob Iger Opens Up About ESPN And Sports Gambling
In a recent interview with TIME Magazine, Disney CEO Bob Iger once again answered questions about the future of ESPN.
While Bob Iger and Disney have remained steadfast in their long-term commitment to ESPN, Disney brass have consistently proclaimed that they are staying open-minded about what the future of the network looks like.
Iger specifically has openly proclaimed that he believes ESPN’s future is in streaming, and not traditional cable.
A Future in Gambling?
The other elephant in the room when it comes to ESPN is sports gambling.
As other sports networks continue to partner with gambling companies, Disney has been hesitant to associate their family-friendly brand with gambling.
With that being said, Bob Iger has previously noted that it is inevitable that ESPN will incorporate gambling, without getting into the betting business itself.
“I think that’s important for consumers, particularly young consumers. I mentioned earlier in another meeting, I have two sons who are 24 and 20. And it’s not just about fantasy sports, but they’re interested in it. And I prefer to wait as long as possible. I think it’s inevitable that there’ll be basically seamlessness between sports programming and sports betting.”
After ESPN announced that it had invested $250 million in DraftKings, many wondered if this meant that Disney was diving head-first into gambling.
Walking A Fine Line
In a sit-down with TIME Magazine, however, Bob Iger dismissed the idea.
“ESPN is interested in figuring out a way to enable its consumers, who are watching sports on television or mobile devices or whatever, to participate in some form of sports betting. Without having to leave the experience completely. It’s basically trying to increase engagement.”
A Changing Perception Of Gambling
While sports gambling being integrated into ESPN is an inevitability, Iger is still hesitant to push Disney too far into that sphere.
“I was probably on the more conservative side about this for a long time,” he said. “But I’ve changed because I think the acceptance of sports betting has grown significantly. And my desire is to see that the company continues to serve its consumers well. Without us really, I think, distancing ourselves from values, because we’re not actually causing the bets to be made. We’re just enabling people to link to companies that do that. I don’t think it’s an issue.”
As Disney to continues to look for ways to increase profitability at ESPN, sports gambling seems like a no brainier. With that being said, Iger and Disney will have to continue to be careful not to push the company too far away from its traditional values.
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