According to ESPN, Daily Wager’s ratings are on the rise.

Posted on: July 7, 2023, 04:55h. 

Last updated on: July 7, 2023, 04:55h.

ESPN says ratings for its “Daily Wager” program that airs on ESPN 2 are increasing, but the future of host Doug Kezirian is uncertain.

ESPN sportsbook
Scenes from ESPN’s Daily Wager show filmed in Las Vegas. The network says the show’s ratings are rising. (Image: ESPN)

In a Thursday tweet, the sports broadcaster’s public relations department said “Daily Wager’s” ratings for the most recent pre-Super Bowl period, defined as September 2022 through February 2023, increased by 10% compared to the previous year. After the big game, the show’s ratings increased by 15% through June. This year, the show saw double-digit viewership increases in five of the first six months of 2023, with April being the exception. In the fourth month of the year, “Daily Wager” experienced a 9% year-over-year viewership increase.

It’s likely just a coincidence, but the timing of the tweet from the ESPN PR department is interesting because it came shortly after speculation emerged that the network may not renew the contract of “Daily Wager” host Doug Kezirian, potentially adding him to the growing list of layoffs at Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS).

Neither Disney nor Kezirian have publicly confirmed the speculation, and his Twitter profile still mentions ESPN.

ESPN Sports Betting Ties

There has been ongoing speculation that Disney is interested in acquiring companies to expand its presence in the sports wagering industry, but no deals have been made yet. With Bob Iger’s recent return as the head of the entertainment and media giant, such a transaction may be put on hold as the company deals with other content and attendance issues in its theme parks, among other things.

However, the connection between ESPN and sports wagering is obvious, and the network has been able to benefit somewhat from the sports betting boom without directly participating in booking bets. For example, ESPN secured lucrative agreements with Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR) and DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKNG) in 2020.

There have also been rumors that the sports network is interested in licensing its well-known brand to a gaming company, but the previously mentioned asking price may be too high for many gaming companies.

Disney owns 6% of DraftKings’ nonvoting equity, which it acquired through its $71.3 billion takeover of 21st Century Fox in 2019. The sportsbook operator was one of the largest advertisers across ESPN networks leading up to the Super Bowl earlier this year.

Daily Wager Example of ESPN Getting It Right in Betting

While Disney is addressing larger content issues and the future of Kezirian with the company is still unknown, “Daily Wager” is an example of ESPN making a wise move regarding sports betting content.

Today, sports wagering is legal and available in 34 states and Washington, DC, with four more states expected to join soon. In other words, the industry is growing in the US, and “Daily Wager” allows ESPN to participate in that growth without having to navigate the regulatory challenges associated with operating sportsbooks.

Additionally, the increasing viewership of “Daily Wager” potentially allows ESPN to attract more advertising revenue as the show’s popularity continues to rise.

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