DraftKings Buys Rights to Podcast by Former ESPN Host Dan Le Batard

DraftKings Inc.

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is a leader in the growing digital sports-betting industry. Now, it is making a move to be a bigger player in the media sector.

The digital entertainment and gaming company agreed to pay at least $50 million over three years to distribute a popular sports and pop-culture podcast hosted by former ESPN host

Dan Le Batard,

people familiar with the matter said. DraftKings is looking to make money on the deal by selling advertising and sub-licensing the podcast to radio stations and other audio providers, other people said.

DraftKings is making a major push into the media business, wagering that radio shows and sports recaps will drive additional customers to its betting products. Last month, DraftKings said it reached a deal to acquire the Vegas Sports Information Network, a sports-betting media company with on-screen hosts like

Brent Musburger,

for an undisclosed amount.

This month, DraftKings said it hired

Brian Angiolet,

a former

Verizon Communications Inc.

executive, to set the strategy for its media business.

DraftKings Chief Business Officer

Ezra Kucharz

said in an interview that the company’s media push is focused on keeping sports fans engaged so they are more likely to use the company’s products.

Dan Le Batard in 2014, when he was an ESPN host.


Rodrigo Varela/Associated Press

“If we can build an audience and engage sports fans through content, then we will be able to bring other opportunities, like betting, like fantasy sports, like casino games,” Mr. Kucharz said.

The agreement with DraftKings is the first major licensing deal struck by Meadowlark Media, the sports-media startup founded by Mr. Le Batard and former ESPN President

John Skipper

that owns the rights to Mr. Le Batard’s podcast. Earlier this year, Meadowlark said it raised $12.6 million from funders including former Sony Pictures Chief Executive

Michael Lynton

and the sports-streaming company DAZN.

Mr. Le Batard’s podcast averages 10 million to 12 million monthly downloads, one of the people said. On his podcast, he discusses sports and pop culture with co-host

Jon “Stugotz” Weiner.

Meadowlark opted to license the podcast, in part, because the company is still relatively new and doesn’t have a dedicated ad sales staff or a team of deal makers who can strike deals with different providers, according to a person familiar with the matter. Meadowlark will focus on creating podcasts, documentaries and other shows before it hires those people, the person said.

DraftKings will be licensing the podcast to many different distributors on a nonexclusive basis, which was also a selling point for Mr. Le Batard, who wants the podcast to be heard by as many fans as possible, one of the people said.

Boston-based DraftKings is one of several companies riding the wave of legalization of sports betting in the U.S., which is filling the coffers of sportsbooks in states like New Jersey, Virginia and Michigan.

The rise of sports betting has also reverberated in the media industry, driving up the cost of sports rights and prompting companies like

Fox Corp.

to launch new digital products aimed at bettors. Casino operators such as

Caesars Entertainment Corp.

have forged partnerships with media companies like

Walt Disney Co.

’s ESPN, hoping to find new customers through marketing partnerships.

Fox Corp. and Wall Street Journal parent

News Corp

share common ownership.

Write to Benjamin Mullin at Benjamin.Mullin@wsj.com

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