No, DraftKings Probably Won’t Get A Promotional Boost From Disney Soon

Written By Derek Helling on May 5, 2020 - Last Updated on January 31, 2023
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Anyone who watched NFL games on television a few years ago remembers the constant barrage of DraftKings commercials. A situation that some fear might cause that ugly monster to again rear its head is in play.

Less than a month ago, DraftKings became a publicly traded company. When that happened, entertainment giant Disney became the holder of over 18.2 million shares.

Despite that connection, it’s unlikely that Disney will revive the never-ending attack. In fact, the relationship between the two companies could be very short-lived.

Why more DraftKings commercials are even a possibility

When Disney acquired 21st Century Fox, it came with an ownership stake in DraftKings. To date, Disney has not dumped the stocks nor announced any intent to do so.

In theory, there might be some reason to hold on to the shares. DraftKings has a robust customer base involving casino, daily fantasy and sports betting products all over the country.

That would be a great audience for Disney to market its various products. DraftKings could also serve as a content delivery system in and of itself.

The DraftKings app would be a natural fit for Disney to stream its sports programming in. Whether that be live sporting events or other content such as ESPN documentaries, DraftKings’ app could be a way to get Disney’s content in front of more eyes.

That would take some negotiation, however. Disney has no control over DraftKings despite its significant share of the stock. All this is to say it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

It’s highly unlikely, however. What’s much more likely is that Disney will divest itself of its DraftKings stock. Several indicators point toward that conclusion.

Why the House of Mouse is likely selling on DraftKings

For one thing, Disney passed on the chance to significantly invest in DraftKings years ago. While DraftKings merely offered daily fantasy games at that time, it’s unlikely that DraftKings adding casino and sports betting products did anything to make Disney’s affinity grow.

As a matter of fact, Disney’s public stance has been anti-gambling. For example, it lobbied against legalizing sports betting in Florida while DraftKings was lobbying the state’s Legislature from the opposite angle.

It would look hypocritical if Disney were to own millions of shares in a gambling company while pushing legislators against legalizing gambling. That is even more the case for considerations of actual coordination between the two companies.

Disney’s family-friendly marketing will likely preclude it from turning NFL broadcasts on ESPN into promotional channels for DraftKings, even if it should decide to hold on to the stock. By the same token, it’s unlikely that DraftKings will start getting access to Disney programming to stream on its app unless it pays a handsome price for it.

DraftKings might actually be better off negotiating such access with the rights holders, i.e. the NFL, itself than trying to become a third-party distributor for Disney’s content. For all these reasons, it’s unlikely that DraftKings commercials will fill your TV-watching time again, at least because of Disney.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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