Caesars to build Bleacher Report-branded studio inside sportsbook

Updated February 7, 2019 - 4:17 pm

Caesars Entertainment Corp. is teaming up with Turner Sports to develop gaming content as casino operators tussle for market share in the fast-growing wagering industry.

The deal is the first between a national television network and a major casino operator. ESPN, the Disney-owned sports network, and other national networks could follow suit, analysts said.

Caesars will open a Bleacher Report-branded studio this spring inside the sportsbook at Caesars Palace, its most iconic property, Turner and the casino operator said in a joint statement Thursday. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Turner will hire talent to create video content at the new Caesars studio for distribution on Bleacher Report, its popular website focused on sports and sports culture. Bleacher Report reaches more than 250 million fans through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, according to Turner.

Caesars’ name will be featured on the video content, helping the Las Vegas-based company build brand awareness among sports fans nationwide just as wagering spreads to more states. Sports wagering will be legalized in 30 states by 2030, driving a 16-fold increase in wagering to $81 billion, according to research firm H2 Gambling Capital.

“Broadcasting and media partnerships is one of the big pieces of the sports betting puzzle that hasn’t been addressed yet. It is a great customer acquisition channel for sportsbooks and casinos. This will be the first of several partnerships that we see in this space,” said John DeCree, an analyst at Union Gaming.

Fan engagement

Casinos and sportsbook operators have been penning partnerships with teams, leagues and sports betting technology companies since the Supreme Court overturned a ban on wagering last May in most states. However, broadcasting deals have been few to date.

VSiN, the sports betting-focused broadcast company, agree to host a studio at Circa, the downtown casino slated to open in 2020. VSiN launched its first studio at the South Point two years ago.

Turner President David Levy told a Las Vegas audience last month that he expected to strike deals with U.S. sports book operators, such as Strip casinos, not only on content, but streaming and customer referrals. However, the latter were not part of Thursday’s announcement.

Sports content can drive greater fan engagement, including in-game betting, benefiting both the broadcaster and the casino, said Brendan Bussmann, a partner at Global Market Advisors, a casino research firm.

“The hard-core bettor wants that content,” he said.

Bleacher Report competes with ESPN, which has seen its subscriber base decline over the years. ESPN will likely partner with casinos even though Disney has kept its distance from the gaming industry, analysts said. ESPN did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.

“I can’t see ESPN sitting forever on the sidelines,” Bussmann said.

Contact Todd Prince at 702-383-0386 or tprince@reviewjournal.com. Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.

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