Is Caesars Trying To Be The Leader Of Sports Partnerships?
It seems like Caesars Entertainment is trying to live up to its powerful namesake. The casino corporation struck yet another leading sports deal last week, this time with the Turner Sports-owned Bleacher Report.
But Caesars is no stranger to recent landmark deals. They’ve speared big fish partnerships–the first casino sponsor of the NFL, the founding partner of Raiders Stadium in Las Vegas, and pro sports teams the Philadelphia 76ers and New York Jets.
Yet another partnership for Caesars
The Turner Sports deal is significant too, capturing yet another branded medium for Caesars to scream “Caesars is your go-to for all things pro sports betting.” The two companies will work together to create gaming-themed content, with a focus on sports betting. Work now begins on the construction of a Bleacher Report-branded TV studio in Caesars Palace Las Vegas.
Lenny Daniels, president of Turner Sports, explained:
“The sports gaming industry is rapidly growing and Turner is poised to be an industry leader in the development of gaming-themed content experiences.”
The Bleacher Report is the top digital destination for “millennial and Gen Z sports fans and is among the most influential brands in all of sports media,” according to Turner. The brand connects with over 250 million sports fans each month through its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.
Not only is that another huge audience for Caesars to get in front of, it’s a demographic that the general casino industry finds it hard to address.
Caesars Entertainment President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Frissora set out the core deal rationale:
“Aligning with one of the most influential brands in all of sports media allows Caesars Entertainment to amplify its sports-gaming experience for guests across our global empire and also reach millions of fans who engage with Bleacher Report for premier content every day.”
Brand exposure during Turner’s extensive sports coverage
As well as the Bleacher Report, Turner’s sports coverage covers:
- NCAA.com and the critically-acclaimed NCAA March Madness Live suite of products
- PGA.com and the Sports Emmy Award-winning PGA Championship LIVE
- Turner Sports and the NBA jointly manage NBA Digital, a robust collection of offerings including NBA TV, NBA.com, NBA LEAGUE PASS, the NBA App and NBAGLEAGUE.com
The Caesars brand will get exposure in all of these facets of Turner’s business. What this deal exemplifies is the synergy potential between casinos, media companies and sports leagues. All made possible by the expansion of state-regulated sports betting after the Supreme Court overturned PASPA.
Other companies are also striking media deals
Caesars claims this deal to be a “first-of-its-kind agreement.” It’s hard to argue with that, but there are other casino media deals out there.
- Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSiN) has agreements that bear a resemblance to Caesars deal. It puts on shows from the South Point Casino in Nevada and New Jersey’s Ocean Resort Casino.
- USAToday broadcasts sports and gaming content from the Mandalay casino in Las Vegas.
In October last year, the American Gaming Association (AGA) put out research showing how much money the four major sports leagues could make from legal sports betting. Part of the reason for the increased revenues was an increase in fan engagement.
Both casinos and media companies would be beneficiaries of increased fan engagement. More sports betting means more viewers interested in sports programs, while more sports content on TV can encourage more sports betting.
Similarly, The Stars Group wants its success in exactly this area in the UK to transfer to the US.
Stars Group is also in the market for a media partner
It would be wrong to think that Caesars and Turner Sports struck this deal in the absence of interest elsewhere.
During the Stars Q3 earnings call last year, CEO Rafi Ashkenazi explained that the company was looking for a US media partner.
Stars bought Sky Betting and Gaming in Spring 2018 for $4.7 billion. Part of Sky’s success came from the extensive coverage it put out on Sky TV.
“The success we had in the UK is unique,” Kyle said. “Our ability to export that to the US is a competitive advantage.”
Ashkenazi then agreed that Stars would be the preferred sports betting partner for US media outlets. He confirmed that the group was in discussion with several media companies but gave away no details.
Caesars might just have pipped Stars at the post for this deal with Caesars. One company that won’t be getting in bed with a sports betting operator is Disney’s ESPN.
“I don’t see The Walt Disney Company, certainly in the near term, getting involved in the business of gambling, in effect, by facilitating gambling in any way.”
Caesars looks to have taken one attractive option off the market.