William Hill US and CBS Sports announced a strategic partnership Monday afternoon that will make the company the official sportsbook and wagering data provider across all CBS Sports platforms.
The deal completes the sportsbook operator’s months-long quest of aligning with a major media company. The two sides reached a deal after reports surfaced in the Times of London over the weekend that William Hill resumed negotiations with the broadcast network.
The partnership will be launched with initial integrations in March on CBS Sports’ digital platforms, with a full rollout planned for the fantasy football season. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“CBS Sports, similar to William Hill, has a longstanding history of connecting fans directly to the biggest events and most iconic moments in sports,” said Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill US. “We are excited about this partnership, with assets including mass-reach digital content products, one of the largest fantasy sports databases and platforms in the world, and leading sports television programming, which will allow us to expand the William Hill brand across America quickly and efficiently.”
Today we are proud to announce a strategic partnership that makes William Hill the Official Sports Book and Wagering Data Provider across all @CBSSports platforms!
Check out the full Press Release ⬇️
— William Hill US (@WilliamHillUS) February 10, 2020
The deal is the latest in a line of partnerships between top sportsbook operators in the gambling space and influential media outlets. Last month, Penn National Gaming announced a sports betting and iGaming partnership with Barstool Sports, under which the gaming operator will gain exclusivity to the company’s online and retail sports gambling products for a period of up to 40 years.
Prior to the Barstool announcement, Flutter Entertainment announced a proposed acquisition of The Stars Group in October. The blockbuster deal between Flutter, the parent company of FanDuel, and The Stars Group, could create the world’s largest gambling company valued at roughly $11 billion. The announcement came months after The Stars Group and FOX Sports unveiled plans last spring to launch FOX Bet.
In addition, Yahoo Sports and MGM Resorts International announced a sports betting partnership in October whereby Yahoo became an official digital media sports partner of MGM Resorts. As part of the deal, MGM Resorts and Roar Digital, a joint venture between MGM and GVC, has begun to power sports betting operations for Yahoo Sports. After the deal was finalized late last year, all sports betting activities on the Yahoo Sports app have taken place on the BetMGM platform.
The flurry of deals between sports betting operators and top media companies may have compelled William Hill to accelerate negotiations.
Benefits of aligning with CBS Sports
The timing of the deal could be favorable for both sides. CBS and Turner Broadcasting are in the midst of an eight-year, $8.8 billion expanded partnership to broadcast the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. Last year customers wagered nearly $600 mm on sports in Nevada for the month of March, a large percentage comprised of bets on March Madness.
William Hill could capitalize on marketing opportunities during the month-long tournament, as well as increased online exposure on CBSSports.com and national advertising spots. CBS Sports Digital is the second-largest sports property in the U.S. with more than 80 million users per month across its sites and apps as well as tens of millions of followers on social platforms, the company said in a statement. By comparison, Penn National will tap into Barstool’s expansive database of approximately 66 million monthly unique visitors once it finalizes a deal. The deal underscores the importance of forging relationships with media outlets that possess a large customer reach.
Under the deal, William Hill agreed to pay CBS Sports a fee in order to gain access to the company’s audience and sponsorships across its digital platforms, the Wall Street Journal reported.
William Hill will receive exclusive rights to promote its brand across CBS Sports’ broad range of digital properties, including through CBS Sports Fantasy, CBS said in a statement.
“We’re thrilled to launch this momentous partnership, which will allow us to deepen our investment and further extend our leadership in delivering multi-platform sports wagering content, while providing William Hill with unprecedented reach for their market-leading betting platform as they continue to grow their industry-leading U.S. business,” said Jeffrey Gerttula, Executive Vice President and General Manager, CBS Sports Digital.
“The power of our distribution, combined with the strength of our brands and the expertise of William Hill, has us well-positioned to tap into the explosive growth of the legal sports betting industry in the U.S. Together, we will deliver even more value to this rapidly growing segment of sports fans,” he added.
Beyond March Madness, CBS owns the media rights to a number of other prominent sporting events. In April, CBS will broadcast The Masters, an event that generated a 7.7 rating last year when Tiger Woods captured his first major in more than a decade. Woods’ performance produced the highest ratings for a morning golf broadcast since 1985. At William Hill, Woods is currently a co-favorite with Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm to win the 2020 Masters at 10/1. CBS Sports also owns the media rights to the PGA Championship, along with broadcast packages for SEC college football and AFC weekly games through its deal with the NFL.
Interested to see the details of the William Hill deal with CBS per March Madness:
Will we see the following?
– WH branding on CBS Sports brackets?
– WH score ticker branding?
– WH inclusion of Pre-game or Halftime?
– CBS Sports push of WH on social?https://t.co/x2UeZQR1Iv
— Jason Ziernicki 🎲🏈➡️💰 (@jziernick) February 10, 2020
The intersection between sports betting operators and major media companies wound up being a hot topic at the Sports Betting USA Investor Summit in November. Ramy Ibrahim, a managing director at Moelis & Company, discussed the advantages for media companies in partnering with the nation’s largest sportsbooks. In particular, Ibrahim noted that if a media company purchases a minority stake in a sportsbook of less than 5%, the company can maintain a passive investment without applying for a sports betting license.
As such, when the Fox Corporation announced the partnership with The Stars Group, Fox said it will acquire roughly 14.35 mm newly issued common shares in The Stars Group, representing 4.99% of The Stars Group’s issued and outstanding common shares. It is immediately unclear whether CBS Sports negotiated for an equity stake in William Hill US during the talks.
Prior to the announcement, shares in William Hill Plc closed Monday on the FTSE 250 at £178.45 per share, up 5.40 (3.12%). William Hill, the parent company of William Hill US, hit a session-high of 181.20 on higher than normal volume.
It marked William Hill’s highest level for the month of February. William Hill currently maintains live sports betting operations in New Jersey, Nevada, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Rhode Island and West Virginia.