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DraftKings buys rights to Dan Le Batard’s radio show as sports betting company expands media footprint

Dan Le Batard, the former ESPN star, is partnering with DraftKings, the sports betting company. (Jason Koerner/Getty Images)

DraftKings announced Monday a new partnership with former ESPN personality Dan Le Batard to distribute his radio show and podcast, furthering the sports betting company’s ambitions as a media company and giving Le Batard a new home in a sports media industry increasingly tied to sports betting.

DraftKings purchased the rights to distribute “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” as well as the network of podcasts Le Batard and his business partner, former ESPN president John Skipper, are building through their new media company, Meadowlark. As part of the deal, Le Batard’s show will feature DraftKings odds and sportsbook information, and Meadowlark will develop other gambling content for DraftKings.

According to the announcement, DraftKings will have the rights to distribute Le Batard’s show across audio, TV and digital channels, meaning the company can sell the show to radio networks such as Westwood One and digital audio platforms such as SiriusXM. DraftKings may also air the show on its new channel devoted to betting that just launched on Sling TV.

Terms of the deal were not announced, but according to a person briefed on the agreement Meadowlark will receive at least $50 million over three years. (The Wall Street Journal first reported the exact figures.)

DraftKings spent $475 million on sales and marketing last year, according to Axios, and appears ready to expand its presence in sports media in its quest to attract bettors. The company recently hired a chief media officer, Brian Angiolet, to oversee an expected media expansion, and it recently acquired Vegas Sports & Information Network, a sports betting media company.

As legal betting booms, journalists jump from sports page to sportsbook

The Supreme Court overturned a law in 2018 that limited most sports gambling to Nevada, and 19 states now have legal, regulated wagering markets, according to Legal Sports Report, with more expected to move this year. The total amount bet in the United States eclipsed $4 billion in January. To acquire customers in the nascent market, gambling operators have turned to media companies. Caesars has partnerships with ESPN and Bleacher Report. Penn National Gaming acquired a stake in Barstool Sports.

Le Batard, a former columnist at the Miami Herald, is based in Miami and has a large following in Florida, the country’s third-most-populous state, which announced last week it would legalize mobile sports betting.

Le Batard left ESPN in January after hosting a radio and TV show and writing for the company’s magazine for more than two decades. But clashes with executives, including criticism of the network’s limited coverage of politics in the Trump era, frayed his relationship with the sports giant, and the sides announced a split last year. Le Batard partnered with Skipper to found Meadowlark, a content company that plans to sell podcasts, documentaries and other shows to streaming platforms.

The deal with DraftKings will keep Le Batard’s podcast outside a paywall and deliver funding for the new company to hire employees and fund its projects.

“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,” Le Batard said, according to the release. “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. Sincerely, Draft Le Batard.”

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