ESPN Suspends DraftKings TV Ad Segments

ESPN has suspended its branded news segments featuring sports fantasy site DraftKings. The fantasy sports company has suspended virtually all TV advertising on the network.

All this was in response to a DraftKings and FanDuel “insider trading” scandal that was revealed in a New York Times story on Tuesday. That story said a DraftKings employee used inside information to play on the competitor’s FanDuel site, winning $350,000.

Both companies have issued an unusual joint release saying they will prohibit employees from playing in their fantasy sports contests.

Media executives say DraftKings pulled its TV advertising on ESPN. Representatives at DraftKings did not respond to an email inquiry from Media Daily News.

An ESPN spokeswoman said: “We have pulled DraftKings billboards and sponsorship out of news programming today. It is a standard procedure for us to pull these kind of sponsorships and integrations when we are covering significant news, to avoid any suggestion of influence on our coverage.”



Some months ago, ESPN struck a $500 million advertising deal with DraftKings. For its part, Fox has an 11% stake in DraftKings; Time Warner and Comcast have equity stakes in FanDuel.

While virtually all DraftKings TV advertising on ESPN has been stopped, a DraftKings commercial did appear in the network’s “Pardon The Interruption” show.

Both DraftKings and FanDuel have been a big boon to TV sports networks and programming -- spending big TV advertising dollars, especially with the start of the NFL season. According to iSpot,tv, from September 1 to October 6, DraftKings has spent $69.3 million in TV advertising; FanDuel has spent $61.2 million.

Reports are each sports fantasy company has a valuation of over $1 billion. Representatives from CBS and Fox -- who also air NFL games -- did not respond to inquiries by press time. A spokesperson for NBC, which airs the NFL's "Sunday Night Football," said: "We're monitoring developments closely."

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