We are a little over one week into the launch of ESPN BET in the Bay State. The early results show that the official sports betting site of the worldwide leader in sports will be a force to be reckoned with.
In August, PENN Entertainment announced it had entered into a long-term agreement with ESPN to rebrand its Barstool Sportsbook to ESPN BET. PENN launched the app in 17 states on Nov. 14, including in the Massachusetts sports betting market.
PENN is already a major player in the Bay State, thanks to Plainridge Park Casino. However, this change to team up with ESPN could help it compete with bigger operators like BetMGM Massachusetts and Caesars Sportsbook Massachusetts.
Over 1 million ESPN BET Sportsbooks downloads in first week
Massachusetts sports bettors had been eagerly awaiting the launch of ESPN BET Massachusetts since the summer. Some wondered if a launch so far into the NFL betting season would put PENN at a significant disadvantage. However, the results tell a different story.
Over six days from Nov. 14-20, 1.1 million users downloaded ESPN BET, according to estimates from Citizens JMP Securities. That’s the most ever by a sports betting app in that time frame.
FanDuel Massachusetts initially set the record with 468,000 downloads during the week of the 2022 Super Bowl. ESPN BET downloads more than doubled that total.
According to Legal Sports Report’s Sam McQuillan, the ESPN Bet app also set a record for the most downloads of any sports betting app in two days.
ESPN BET set a record for the most downloads of any sports betting app in a 2-day span, this past Tuesday-Wednesay, Citizens JMP Securities estimates.
Obviously, downloads don't = retention, but it suggests a high level of investment from PENN to acquire customers so far.
— Sam McQuillan (@sam_mcquill) November 16, 2023
ESPN BET received approximately 70% of sports betting app downloads nationwide last week. FanDuel ranked second with a download market share of 10% and was the only other operator to post a double-digit figure. At one point last week, app downloads at ESPN BET ranked first overall in Apple’s App Store for around 100 straight hours. ESPN BET outranked Temu, a shopping app; Lapse, an app that mimics a disposable camera; and even Google.
Can ESPN BET’s early success translate to a higher hold on MA sports betting market share?
Everyone knows the name ‘ESPN.’ It’s one of the biggest brand names in sports. So, this early flurry in popularity shouldn’t be that surprising. However, can PENN turn this early success and climb the MA sportsbook rankings?
Since the launch of legal sports betting in Massachusetts, PENN, or Barstool, ranks fourth in lifetime handle and revenue. That’s thanks in part to a strong start in January. However, Barstool slipped to the fifth-sixth range over the past two months, with apps like Fanatics Sportsbook nipping at its heels.
Total MA sports betting handle in October:
- DraftKings: $305 million
- FanDuel: $156 million
- BetMGM: $35 million
- Caesars: $19 million
- PENN: $14 million
- Fanatics: $14 million
- WynnBET: $13 million
- Betr: $324,273
Granted, there was little promotion of the Barstool sportsbook as PENN was prepping for the ESPN BET transition. With the site up and running, excitement for the new betting product is at an all-time high.
November’s and December’s Massachusetts sports betting revenue numbers will be interesting. November should reflect this early spike. Meanwhile, December will be the first full month of ESPN BET in operation. I could see ESPN BET vaulting over Caesars and possibly gaining some ground on BetMGM to compete for that third spot month-to-month.
It’s important to remember that a high rate of downloads early on doesn’t necessarily project how many customers they’ll retain. ESPN BET is currently offering $200 worth of bonus bets to new customers and to those who previously had a Barstool Sportsbook account. The real test will be how the app fares once the initial Massachusetts sportsbook promos are unavailable.