Turner Makes Bet With Caesars on Gambling Content

Making an early bet on the growth of programming about gambling, Turner Sports has made a deal with Caesars Entertainment that will create a Bleacher Report branded studio at the sports book at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

With the Supreme Court last year striking down the federal law making sports gambling illegal, betting is coming to more and more states. Sports leagues and media companies are looking for ways to cash in on what is expected to be a large audience of very engaged fans.

Turner said the new Bleacher Report studio will be the hub for the creation of an assortment of gaming-related programming and editorial content that will distributed on Bleacher Report and the B/R app.

Details about the studio and how it will be staffed will be unveiled in the coming months, the companies said.

“The sports gaming industry is rapidly growing and Turner is poised to be an industry leader in the development of gaming-related content experiences,” said Lenny Daniels, president of Turner Sports. “Gaming content will be a key driver for increasing fan engagement across all platforms, including time spent watching live sporting events and other criteria that impact television viewership. We’re excited to form this groundbreaking relationship with Caesars, a proven leader in sports gaming, as we collaborate to deliver the best gaming-related content experiences for our fans.”

Caesars will be featured as a Bleacher Report gaming partner and integrated into a variety of content and platforms. Caesars will also be a presenting sponsor of some programming on Turner’s linear networks and might co-produce some programming and events.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal is non-exclusive according to sources familiar with the arrangement. Turner has a close relationship with the NBA, which last year made a deal to make MGM Resorts International its official gaming partner.

“Caesars Entertainment continues to redefine its role as a sports authority in the gaming-hospitality industry,” said Mark Frissora, president and CEO for Caesars Entertainment. “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.”

Last month at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, Turner president David Levy said he expected legalized gambling to help fuel the growth of sports on TV.

While Levy said it was unlikely that Turner, part of AT&T, would become a sports book, he said there were several ways that media companies could generate revenue from the loosened gambling laws, including creating content for gaming companies.

He also said that a company like Turner could make money from referring viewers to gambling sites or by creating special feeds of events that would be of interest to people making wagers. Neither of those business are part of Turner’s deal with Caesars.

On Tuesday, Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger said he didn’t expect his company to be taking bets.

“I don’t see the Walt Disney Co., certainly in the near term, getting involved in the business of gambling by facilitating gambling in any way,” he said during the company’s earnings call with analysts. “

But Iger did say there was room for ESPN to create content that provides information in its sports coverage that would be of interest to gamblers and that the network “would not be shy about it."

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.