I came across this interesting article about how Disney, who owns ESPN, is planning to move into the sports betting space. This is something that Disney had previously avoided to safeguard its family-friendly brand, but new CEO Bob Chapek has opened the doors to the possibility. As the article notes, a key reason for this shift is due to changing consumer attitudes around gambling, which is something that we’ve seen developing in the video game space for some time. The article also notes that increasing gamification of media is encouraging the move:
We have done substantial research in terms of the impact not only on the ESPN brand, but the Disney brand in terms of consumers’ changing perceptions of the acceptability of gambling. And what we’re finding is that there is very significant insulation,” Chapek said. “It actually strengthens the brand of ESPN when you have a betting component, and it has no impact on the Disney brand.”
So what changed? Changing consumer habits is one piece of the puzzle, with “gamification” becoming commonplace in apps and media. ESPN+, like other streaming services, is all but certain to add gamification functionality in the future as it seeks to grow engagement and its subscriber base.
It’s interesting to see how trends that have been developing in the video game space are influencing more traditional media companies, and this trend is likely only to grow in the coming years.