According to the announcement, DraftKings will have the rights to distribute Le Batard’s show across audio, TV and digital channels, which means the company can sell the show to radio networks such as Westwood One and platforms digital audio such as SiriusXM. DraftKings may also air the show on its new betting channel which has just launched on Sling TV.
Terms of the deal have not been announced, but according to a person briefed on the deal, Meadowlark will receive at least $50 million over three years. (The Wall Street Journal first reported the exact numbers.)
DraftKings spent $475 million on sales and marketing last year, according to Axios, and looks set to expand its presence in sports media in its quest to attract punters. The company recently hired a media director, Brian Angiolet, to oversee an expected media expansion, and it recently acquired Vegas Sports & Information Network, a sports betting media company.
The Supreme Court struck down a law in 2018 that limited most sports betting in Nevada, and 19 states now have legal and regulated betting markets, according to Legal Sports Report, with more expected to move this year. The total amount wagered in the United States exceeded $4 billion in January. To acquire customers in the nascent market, gaming operators have turned to media companies. Caesars has partnerships with ESPN and Bleacher Report. Penn National Gaming has acquired a stake in Barstool Sports.
Le Batard, a former Miami Herald columnist, is based in Miami and has a large following in Florida, the country’s third-most populous state, which last week announced it would legalize mobile sports betting.
Le Batard left ESPN in January after hosting a radio and television 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, have frayed its relationship with the sports giant, and the parties announced a split last year. Le Batard has 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 out of a paywall and provide funds 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 that no scare company or traditional media partner ever could or would ever want,” Le Batard said, according to the statement. “To our fans, know that DraftKings is the reason you’re not behind a paywall, and I promise the money won’t change the series or corrupt us in any way. Sincerely, Draft Le Bastard.