DraftKings is making another big media play: The sports-wagering site announced a multiyear content distribution, monetization and sponsorship agreement with Meadowlark Media, the digital media company formed by ex-ESPN boss John Skipper and ex-ESPN host Dan Le Batard.
As part of the deal, DraftKings secured rights to sports and pop-culture podcasts “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” and the “Le Batard & Friends Network.” The companies said they will distribute the shows across a wide range of audio, TV, digital and social channels.
Under the deal, DraftKings will pay Meadowlark at least $50 million over three years, the Wall Street Journal reported.
According to DraftKings, the shows from Meadowlark will “prominently feature DraftKings’ odds, betting trends and general sportsbook and daily fantasy information.” In a statement, Le Batard addressed the new ownership situation: “To our fans, know that DraftKings is the reason you aren’t behind a paywall, and I’m promising you the money won’t change the show or corrupt us in any way.”
For now, “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” will continue to be available in podcast form with new formats of the show set to launch later this year. In addition, DraftKings plans to commission new content projects that Meadowlark will develop and produce.
“The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” was previously carried by ESPN Radio, before ESPN and Le Batard parted ways in December. Le Batard had a contentious relationship with the sports-media giant, having openly challenged ESPN’s previous policy to not allow its talent to address politics.
“We’re thrilled to find a collaborator in DraftKings that shares our vision to grow Dan Le Batard’s already wildly popular network of shows in non-conventional ways,” Meadowlark CEO John Skipper said in announcing the deal. “With the freedom to widely distribute these programs, we’ll be able to reach the largest possible audience and provide incredible content to DraftKings.”
The pact with Meadlowlark comes after DraftKings earlier this year announced the acquisition of Vegas Sports Information Network (VSiN), founded in 2017 and led by CEO Brian Musburger (nephew of sportscaster Brent Musburger), which produces about 18 hours of linear sports betting content daily. And this month, the company announced that it hired Verizon veteran Brian Angiolet as its first chief media officer.
“John Skipper and Dan Le Batard have established a deep roster of content creators that will continue to expand quality and original programming,” said Jason Robins, CEO, co-founder and chairman, DraftKings. “Our relationship with Meadowlark Media demonstrates DraftKings’ dynamic approach in bringing premium content to skin-in-the-game sports fans through numerous channels.”
Le Batard thanked DraftKings “for empowering us with the exhilarating combination of rocket fuel and total freedom.”
“I’m overjoyed to team with a fearless creative partner who sees the future and wants to help us change it,” he said in a prepared statement. “DraftKings believed in us, our principles and our mission enough to give us a freedom no scared corporation or traditional media partner ever could or ever would.”
Last month Skipper exited his post as executive chairman of sports-streaming company DAZN to focus on Meadowlark Media, which he launched with Le Batard in January. Skipper resigned as president of ESPN in December 2017, which he said was because of an extortion attempt related to his purchase of cocaine.