Amidst a P.R. scandal last week involving daily-fantasy sites DraftKings and FanDuel, ESPN announced it would “temporarily” pull all DraftKings-sponsored segments from its airwaves. ESPN made that announcement on Tuesday; By Friday, the sponsored segments were back.
An ESPN spokesperson confirms that the segments returned on Friday, but had no further comment.
ESPN inked a multi-year marketing partnership with DraftKings earlier this year—a partnership that will require DraftKings to pump hundreds of millions of dollars back to ESPN in advertising spend. But the exclusivity part does not kick in until January; as a result, not only DraftKings but its main competitor FanDuel are both advertising on the “worldwide leader in sports” relentlessly. At times, viewers are even seeing back-to-back ads for the services.
ESPN did not at any time pull the (many) ad spots that were running for DraftKings—rather, what it pulled were sponsored in-show segments, signified by billboards in the background of an ESPN program, and by hosts giving introductions like, “You’re watching NFL Insiders, presented by DraftKings.”
The move to drop the sponsored segments was received in the media as yet another significant domino in a major scandal that was kicked off by a New York Times report about a DraftKings employee winning $350,000 in a FanDuel contest. Now, after the two companies have addressed the issue by banning their employees from playing on each other’s sites, the scandal already appears to be dissipating. Or at least that’s how ESPN feels.
For much more on the DraftKings and FanDuel data scandal, see: