ESPN Bet and NHL Team on Sponsorship Deal

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Penn Entertainment has secured a major promotional partnership with the National Hockey League (NHL), marking a significant sponsorship deal for its new ESPN Bet venture.

The agreement designates Penn’s online sports betting brands, ESPN Bet in the U.S. and theScore Bet in Ontario, Canada, as official sports betting partners of the NHL.

“There’s definite excitement in being one of the first leagues to partner with ESPN Bet and Penn Entertainment,” said Jason Jazayeri, NHL VP of business development, in a press release.

“From day one, we’ve said our media rights deal with ESPN and The Walt Disney Company has been a big win for our fans and our league, and this new collaboration is further testament to the value of our partnership.”

The Scope of the Partnership

Under this partnership, ESPN Bet becomes an NHL partner in the U.S., while theScore Bet will collaborate with the NHL in Ontario.

This deal, effective immediately, covers the NHL regular season, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the 2024 NHL Winter Classic, the 2024 NHL Stadium Series, and the 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend.

Both ESPN Bet and theScore Bet will gain access to intellectual property rights, media and marketing integrations across NHL programming, and premium NHL experiences. The partnership will also include cooperation in game integrity procedures.

The deal is by no means an exclusive one. The NHL’s existing sports betting sponsors, DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM, will continue with their partnerships alongside ESPN.

ESPN Bet Expanding

ESPN Bet, which launched on November 14 in 17 states, is a newly-rebranded online sportsbook operated by Penn Entertainment.

Penn’s stock price has risen sharply since the debut of the app earlier this month, when it smashed records with more than a million downloads in its first week.

This partnership with the NHL marks ESPN Bet’s first direct major sports league sponsorship, although it already has promotion on every sports match broadcast by ESPN’s network. That has included ads aimed at football betting fans on NFL broadcasts, as well as visibility in other popular American sports.  

Penn also recently announced four expansion projects of its existing U.S gambling venues, including casinos in Nevada, Illinois and Ohio.

Out of those, the Hollywood Casino Aurora’s transition from a riverboat venue to a permanent venue is set to feature a new addition to the list of Illinois retail sportsbooks.

It would make sense for that to be an ESPN Bet sportsbook. But as no retail betting venues have opened from the sportsbook as of yet, that remains to be seen.

Penn Gambles on ESPN Bet Success

This new venture with the biggest U.S. sports broadcaster was a big bet for Penn. The operator previously spent hundreds of millions on completing the acquisition of Barstool Sports for its previous venture, only to unceremoniously sell the media brand back to founder Dave Portnoy for a reported $1 fee just months later.

Penn then paid ESPN a cool $1 billion for rights to use its branding for the sportsbook, which it hopes will bring a significant portion of the broadcaster’s 105 million monthly viewers along with it.

“The recent launch of ESPN Bet in the U.S. is extremely exciting and we’re thrilled to collaborate with the NHL to help market our new sports betting experience,” said Aubrey Levy, SVP, marketing and content at Penn Interactive.

“Becoming an official partner allows us to more broadly engage hockey fans, develop compelling integrations, and uniquely leverage NHL programming.”

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