Home Outlets How sportsbooks are placing bigger bets on sports media outlets

How sportsbooks are placing bigger bets on sports media outlets


In this week’s Media Briefing, media editor Kayleigh Barber looks at how sports betting companies are pushing more money to publishers.

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Sportsbooking revenues

The key words:

Sports betting companies have been pouring money into publishers since a landmark legal ruling in 2018.BlueWire Podcasts provides an example of how one media company has taken sportsbooks’ media interest to the bank.While sportsbooks are working with publishers, some are also looking to become publishers in their own right.

The online sports betting industry has become a significant win for sports publishers over the past three years — particularly for one media startup with a deal with a single sportsbook that represents its largest revenue source. 

That’s the case for three-year-old BlueWire Podcasts, a media company that publishes 170 sports and sports-adjacent podcasts, which was founded just three months after the U.S. Supreme Court, in May 2018, struck down a 1992 federal law that made sports betting illegal in most states. 

BlueWire is now reaping its rewards from this ruling, just two-and-a half years later. The podcast publisher signed a three-year-long deal with WynnBET that has already led to a $3.5 million investment in the media company in exchange for partial ownership, at least $1 million in advertising revenue and a multimillion-dollar recording studio built at the Wynn Las Vegas that opened in early September, according to BlueWire’s founder and CEO Kevin Jones.

“The partnership with WynnBET has been rocket fuel for BlueWire,”Jones said Jones that Jones had been approached by the sportsbook in January and that within a month, the deal was inked. 

BlueWire’s deal is an exclusive partnership with WynnBET, meaning the media company cannot work with other sports betting companies on partnerships. The deal also guarantees an amount of revenue for ads, and BlueWire will produce a few podcasts to WynnBET. 

Jones declined to share exactly how much money BlueWire earns from this category, but he said that sports betting has become the company’s largest revenue stream since it was founded three years ago. 

Patrons of Sportsbooks

Since the May 2018 ruling, sportsbooks have grown in popularity online in more than a dozen states. They are quickly gaining lucrative and growing customer bases. Ark Invest, an investment management firm, estimated that online sports betting would grow to $9.5 billion this year and reach $37 billion by 2025. There is money to be made — and spent — in sports betting. 

Media companies began reaping the benefits from partnerships with sportsbooks within one year. These partnerships often included a branded show, or even a physical space, in seven- to ten-figure deals. In February 2019, Turner Sports closed a content partnership deal with Caesars Entertainment that included founding a Bleacher Report studio within the casino operator’s Las Vegas resort. And more recently this August, ESPN began its search for a multi-year licensing partner who is willing to pay upwards of $3 billion — indicating this industry’s growth in just a few years. 

Jones stated that BlueWire had entertained deals with some other sportsbooks. “other players who are more established, like FanDuel or DraftKings, already have a lot of things set up. We like being the upstart with WynnBET and they’ve tapped us as more than just content producers. We’re a media arm; we help them make decisions,”He said.

Sportsbooks are publishers in themselves

Sportsbooks themselves are investing so heavily in these media partnerships, in part because of the corresponding brand marketing opportunity — filling the funnel of potential betters with known sports fans — but also because there is a big push from these companies wanting to become media companies in their own right. 

DraftKings has built several media partnerships with publishers over the years, including a deal with Vox Media’s SB Nation to create a dedicated website for the company’s sports betting content called DraftKings Nation. From a brand awareness perspective, it is attractive to get media sites to publish data on sports and detail the odds of a particular game. 
“One of our major intents is actually [to] be our own publisher, if you will, and be the one that is providing perspective in those categories around information, analysis, conversation, and culture,”Brian Angiolet is the CMO at DraftKings. — Kayleigh Barber

What we’ve heard

“In my mind, follower count is not necessarily a valuable metric on TikTok, especially because of the ‘For You’ page.”

— Media executive

According to a report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which has been published every four years since 2008, the internet has led to a boom of digital news, information, and entertainment jobs. 

According to The Economic Impact of the Marketplace-Making Internet (which serves to estimate the economic impact of the market-making internet), more than half of the U.S. media and advertising industry jobs are now connected to the internet. “quantify the impact of the internet on the U.S. economy,”David Cohen, IAB CEO, said during a live presentation on Wednesday. It’s worth noting that, considering the report covers up to 2020, it may not necessarily reflect the full impact of the pandemic on internet-related media jobs.

The number of people employed in news and information-related publishing tripled between 2008 and 2020 to more than 142,000 people — three times the 46,000 people employed in 2008 and 73% more than in 2016. “The growth and acceleration since 2016 has been absolutely staggering,” Cohen said.

The report broke down the number of U.S. internet employees — or someone whose job is either entirely or partially dependent on the internet — in 2020. The by-company breakdowns covered categories for large, legacy information and news organizations; digital publishers; as well as what the IAB refers to as “digital publishers”. “multi-genre and multi-platform”Companies and organizations that “have their roots” in non-digital media but now have web, podcasting, mobile and subscription and/or advertising-supported streaming channels (which would seem to include a lot of large news organizations, but we didn’t create the list). Here’s a sample of media companies included in the report.

Large news agencies:

Bloomberg: 12,600News Corps: 5,552Foxcorp: 4,864Thomson Reuters – 2,726Gannett – 2,068The New York Times – 1,500The Washington Post – 1,000 

Digital publishers

Red Ventures: 2,520Vice Media Group: 2,046Vox Media: 865BuzzFeed: 827Penske Media Corp: 719Leaf Group: 346Insider: 200

”Multi-genre and multi-platform” organizations:

Advance Publications (Condé Nast, Reddit): 12,950Disney: 12,500Hearst: 10,800ViacomCBS: 7,677IAC: 5,665Meredith: 1,743Univision: 1,040Tribune Media: 731

According to the report, 34,000 people were employed in positions related podcasting, streaming video, digital gaming and other related fields in 2020. 

It’s not just the IAB that has recorded an uptick in media jobs recently. Indeed saw a 37% rise in journalism job postings between September 2020 and Sept 2021 (per 1,000,000 job posts). According to LinkedIn’s monthly Workforce Report, the hiring rate for the media & communications industry is up 46% from September 2020 to September 2021. — Sara Guaglione

Numbers to Know

54% Percentage share of Twitter’s U.S. employees in leadership roles — director-level positions or higher — who are white.

72% Percentage share of WarnerMedia’s senior executives — employees in vp positions or higher — who are white.

20 Number of journalists that The Associated Press plans to employ for a new climate reporting outfit it plans to form.

$725 Million: The valuation of LeBron James’ media company SpringHill after its latest investment round.



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30% Percentage share of overall Facebook referral traffic that is coming from the Facebook News tab for U.S., U.K. and German publishers whose articles are included in the tab.

3 questions with them’s Sarah Burke

Sarah Burke would seem to be an ideal candidate to oversee an identity-focused publication like Condé Nast’s them, which is oriented around the LBGTQ community. “Identity has been a through-line in my work and particularly LGBTQ rights and issues,”Burke. Burke worked most recently on Vice’s documentary series on transgender rights entitled “Transnational” that premiered in June, and now she is continuing her identity work as them’s editor-in-chief.

At them, Burke is looking to build on the outlet’s track record of covering topics and issues pertinent to LGBTQ people who “are still often very skeptical of media and, unfortunately, that is very warranted,”She agreed. She continued, “them has really stood out to me as this platform that has built an incredible amount of trust with its readers in terms of proving that not only is this a site that is for and by LGBTQ people but that there’s real care and intentionality behind the work.”

Two weeks into her tenure, Burke spoke to Digiday about her ambitions for this outlet, which include more original reporting and pushing into the video realm.

The interview was edited for clarity and length. — Tim Peterson

When companies are hiring a new leader, they’re often looking for someone with ideas of how to evolve an organization. What’s your vision for the future of them and how you want to grow the publication?

One aspect is more original reporting. Just more international news coverage and larger investigations. I want readers to continue to trust me as we provide real rigorous coverage. And I want to honestly increase that rigor. On the other, I believe that we all need a bit more joy. So I also want to counter that with a lot of focus on just the things that we’re really excited about. My outlook overall, in terms of the work that I do and coming in as EIC for this site, is really that LGBTQ people have kind of been at the forefront of social change, of fashion trends, of the shifts in the ways that Americans think about themselves — all kinds of Americans, both historically and currently. So I see the site’s mission as providing a record of that.

Are there any specific topics or issues that you’re planning to grow the coverage of or any specific desks that you’re looking to form?

I don’t want to get too in the weeds on it yet. I can only say that we want to continue building on the existing pillars. These pillars are news, culture (health and style), and style (fashion). For news, that means bringing more international coverage. We want more videos in culture. We want to be utilizing the Condé Nast infrastructure a little bit more, bringing in more LGBTQ talent that our audience loves, doing bigger shoots, et cetera. 

Platforms: You mentioned in your announcement that you wanted to get them on new platforms. What platforms are you thinking of?

What’s expected. Social video, for instance, is something that we’ll be rolling out really soon. We’re going to revive the YouTube [channel]Move into live events when it is safe and appropriate. And my most recent project was doing a docu-series about trans rights around the world, and I’m really interested in moving into maybe we’re making documentaries, maybe we’re making TV shows. Right now I’m really focused on the site, but platform-wise I’m really open. There are many options.

What we’ve covered

Dow Jones expands Twitter ad revenues-sharing agreement to include additional properties and for an additional year:

The News Corp-owned media company is extending its participation in Twitter’s Amplify program by two more years.Dow Jones is also expanding the deal to more of its properties, including Barron’s, MarketWatch and Investor’s Business Daily.

Read more about Dow Jones and Twitter here.

NBCUniversal News Group’s Chris Berend explains how streaming has become the centerpiece of the organization’s video strategy:

The Comcast-owned news organization’s digital arm has roughly doubled its staff size this year to build up its streaming operation.Streaming has become the centerpiece of NBCUniversal News Group’s video strategy, with short-form video outlets serving as spokes to syndicate programming.

Listen to the latest Digiday Podcast episode here.

Publisher and agency executives scrutinize email-based universal IDs as the third-party cookie’s long-term heir apparent:

The email address may not be as reliable a foundation for identity as it may seem.It may also be too invasive a signal for identity to meet privacy regulators’ approval.

Read more about email-based universal IDs here.

A Q&A with The Washington Post’s Krissah Thompson on the outlet’s growing climate coverage:

The Post’s climate team has doubled in size since 2018 to 13 employees, including 10 reporters.The news outlet plans to have a dozen people covering next month’s COP26 climate change conference.

Read more about The Washington Post here.

Axios made $1 million in revenue with its software licensing business, which has been around for eight months.

Axios expects $1.5 million in Axios headquarters sales by 2021. It has 30 clients and has already brought in $2 million from its professional service offerings.

Read more about Axios here.

What we’re reading

The controversy surrounding Axel Springer
Axel Springer waited to fire an editor at the center of a sexual harassment investigation until The New York Times published its own investigation into the German media conglomerate’s workplace issues as well as its handling of acquisition talks with Axios and Politico.

G/O Media’s editorial employees opt not to return to the office:
G/O Media required employees return to work from the office on October 18, but the first day back saw many editorial employees absent from its New York offices, according to Daily Beast. The media company and its editorial staff have been in a standoff over G/O Media’s office return plans. While the company claimed that employees were less productive while working remotely, employees claimed that this claim was bogus.

Reporters are reluctant to share diversity reports with news outlets:
News Leaders Association, a trade group for journalism, has asked news organizations to complete a survey about diversity in their staffs. However, it was not receiving enough responses to the deadline, according to Associated Press. The survey had a goal of 5,900 participation from newsrooms, but less than 250 outlets participated.

How Alden Global Capital has affected local news:
Alden Global Capital has established a history of acquiring local newspapers and cutting costs while weakening the outlets’ value to readers, according to The Atlantic. The hedge fund has done this most recently with Chicago Tribune, but the starkest example may be its handling of Vallejo Times-Herald, which it eventually left with a single news reporter on staff who covered local government, schools, hospitals, police, courts and businesses — i.e. the core of a local newspaper’s coverage.

Rolling Stone is trying to reinvent itself
According to The Washington Post, more than two years after Penske Media Corporation acquired full ownership of Rolling Stone’s music-and-culture magazine, the publication is seeking to reaffirm itself as a journalist outlet. Former Daily Beast editor-in-chief Noah Shachtman is now overseeing Rolling Stone’s newsroom and is looking to produce reporting that uncovers the dark side of the entertainment industry and popular culture.

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