Disney Goes All In on Sports Betting
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,581,977 (+0.10%)       Melbourne $970,512 (+0.23%)       Brisbane $885,023 (+0.03%)       Adelaide $813,016 (+0.20%)       Perth $760,003 (-0.11%)       Hobart $733,438 (-1.28%)       Darwin $643,022 (-0.79%)       Canberra $970,902 (+1.87%)       National $1,000,350 (+0.23%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $721,725 (+0.37%)       Melbourne $488,237 (-0.76%)       Brisbane $495,283 (+1.37%)       Adelaide $404,022 (-2.77%)       Perth $405,420 (-0.69%)       Hobart $498,278 (-1.60%)       Darwin $339,700 (-0.58%)       Canberra $480,910 (-0.04%)       National $502,695 (-0.26%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,626 (-230)       Melbourne 15,220 (+56)       Brisbane 8,417 (-24)       Adelaide 2,720 (-9)       Perth 6,897 (+56)       Hobart 1,234 (+5)       Darwin 281 (+5)       Canberra 1,079 (-30)       National 46,474 (-171)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,563 (-253)       Melbourne 8,007 (-12)       Brisbane 1,824 (-34)       Adelaide 493 (-16)       Perth 1,902 (-1)       Hobart 176 (+4)       Darwin 388 (-7)       Canberra 858 (+2)       National 22,211 (-317)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $775 (-$5)       Melbourne $570 ($0)       Brisbane $600 ($0)       Adelaide $580 (+$10)       Perth $625 (-$5)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $690 (-$10)       Canberra $680 ($0)       National $642 (-$2)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $730 ($0)       Melbourne $550 ($0)       Brisbane $625 ($0)       Adelaide $460 (+$10)       Perth $580 (+$5)       Hobart $460 (+$10)       Darwin $550 ($0)       Canberra $560 (-$5)       National $576 (+$2)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,654 (+231)       Melbourne 5,764 (+128)       Brisbane 4,271 (-9)       Adelaide 1,259 (+101)       Perth 1,944 (+50)       Hobart 337 (-36)       Darwin 168 (+19)       Canberra 647 (+18)       National 20,044 (+502)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 9,121 (+505)       Melbourne 6,022 (+34)       Brisbane 2,066 (+18)       Adelaide 366 (+1)       Perth 600 (-5)       Hobart 138 (-17)       Darwin 306 (+12)       Canberra 736 (+20)       National 19,355 (+568)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 2.55% (↓)       Melbourne 3.05% (↓)       Brisbane 3.53% (↓)     Adelaide 3.71% (↑)        Perth 4.28% (↓)     Hobart 3.90% (↑)        Darwin 5.58% (↓)       Canberra 3.64% (↓)       National 3.34% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.26% (↓)     Melbourne 5.86% (↑)        Brisbane 6.56% (↓)     Adelaide 5.92% (↑)      Perth 7.44% (↑)      Hobart 4.80% (↑)      Darwin 8.42% (↑)        Canberra 6.06% (↓)     National 5.96% (↑)             HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.7% (↑)      Melbourne 0.8% (↑)      Brisbane 0.4% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 1.2% (↑)      Hobart 0.6% (↑)      Darwin 1.1% (↑)      Canberra 0.7% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.4% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.3% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 1.5% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.3% (↑)      National 0.9% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND       Sydney 28.0 (↑)      Melbourne 29.2 (↑)        Brisbane 30.6 (↓)       Adelaide 23.8 (↓)     Perth 34.2 (↑)      Hobart 29.4 (↑)      Darwin 39.9 (↑)      Canberra 28.2 (↑)      National 30.4 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND       Sydney 29.4 (↑)      Melbourne 29.6 (↑)        Brisbane 30.3 (↓)       Adelaide 22.5 (↓)       Perth 39.2 (↓)     Hobart 26.1 (↑)        Darwin 36.1 (↓)     Canberra 34.4 (↑)        National 31.0 (↓)           
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Disney Goes All In on Sports Betting

After years of internal debate, the entertainment giant did a deal with a gambling company and will launch an ESPN betting app next month. Can it draw a bigger sports crowd without alienating Mickey’s fans?

Fri, Oct 13, 2023 9:45amGrey Clock 8 min

In early 2019, an analyst asked Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger if sports betting could coexist with the House of Mouse’s brand. He said he didn’t see the company facilitating gambling in any way.

Just four years later, the world’s most beloved name in family entertainment is going all-in on sports betting.

In August, the company struck a 10-year deal with sports-betting company Penn Entertainment to bring gambling to Disney’s ESPN sports network. Sports fans will be able to wager on games on their phones through a new app called ESPN Bet that accepts bets through Penn’s sportsbook.

The idea of gambling under the same roof as Disney has roiled some company executives and employees who feel it will damage the brand that is synonymous with princesses and talking cartoon ducks. In the last year, at least one large investor warned Disney that it might have to sell some of its Disney stake if the company embraced betting.

But for ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro and Iger, who saw his two adult sons glued to gambling apps on their smartphones, the chance to engage a younger male audience, and the money, were eventually too good to pass up. Penn will pay Disney $1.5 billion in cash while ESPN will receive warrants worth about $500 million to purchase shares in the gambling company. Penn will operate the app and Disney will help market it.

This is how sports in America works. Fans watch and they bet—particularly young men between the ages of 18 and 34—often making multiple complicated bets during a live sporting event. They can wager on how many 3-pointers a basketball player will sink or who will catch the final fly ball in a baseball game. It is huge on college campuses.

Wagering on games ballooned after a 2018 Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for states to adopt it. It is legal in 38 states and the District of Columbia. Last year, online sports gambling generated $7.6 billion in revenue—the amount companies received after paying out winning bets. Next year, revenue is expected to grow to $11.8 billion, according to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, an industry consulting firm.

ESPN, like more traditional TV networks, is struggling with the decline in cable TV subscribers and the rising cost of sports-broadcasting rights. Sports leagues and legions of startups have embraced gambling, while large media companies have homed in on betting as one of the best ways to expand.

But Disney employees, more than most other workers, feel that their company stands for a set of wholesome ideals—something more than making money.

In mid-2022, Jenny Cohen, a Disney veteran who had been promoted to head of corporate social responsibility a year earlier, raised concerns about a potential foray into sports betting to top executives at Disney’s Burbank, Calif., headquarters and leaders at ESPN, urging them to reconsider their plan to strike a deal with a sports-betting operator.

She told her colleagues, and Disney’s CEO at the time, Bob Chapek, that sports betting would tarnish the Disney brand, according to people familiar with the discussions. Consumers could start associating Disney with gambling addiction, she argued. As this discussion brewed, Disney was already managing a crisis with many employees who felt their employer didn’t take enough of a stand against a Florida bill that prohibits instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity for young students, known by its opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.

Around the same time, BlackRock, the investment giant which uses socially-conscious environmental, social and governance—or ESG—criteria to guide some of its investing decisions, contacted Disney’s investor relations staff. It warned Disney that if the company did a deal with a sportsbook, ESG rules may require some of its European funds to reduce their Disney stakes, people familiar with the matter said.

Disney is also contending with a fresh push by activist investor Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management to secure multiple board seats, The Journal reported this week. Trian thinks Disney’s stock is undervalued and that Disney needs a board that is more focused and accountable. It is unclear what other changes the hedge fund plans to seek. Peltz and Trian haven’t publicly taken a position on ESPN and gambling.

There are Disney fans, Disney+ subscribers and theme park visitors that likely have no idea that ESPN is part of Disney, but internally, Disney’s businesses are perceived as interconnected parts of one overarching corporate brand: a place where dreams come true. The ESPN+ streaming service is offered as part of Disney’s streaming bundle, and ESPN promotes shows from other Disney-owned networks during its broadcasts, and vice versa. This week, for example, ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel appeared on ESPN2’s football show the “Manningcast.”

“My job is to protect the brand at all costs,” said Pitaro, in an interview. “I am the custodian of the ESPN brand, and we needed to make sure that whoever we went with on this journey was someone that we could trust.”

Disney first began flirting with sports betting in March 2019, when it completed its $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox’s major entertainment assets, which included a 6% stake in sports betting company DraftKings.

At the time, some of Iger’s top lieutenants urged him to take a bigger ownership stake in the gambling company, but Iger resisted, arguing that betting wasn’t on-brand for Disney.

Without his blessing, sports-betting discussions stalled until Iger stepped down as CEO in February of 2020, and the board named his veteran head of parks, Chapek, to replace him.

Chapek had a much different view of gambling. He told associates that he was “not that precious about the Disney brand,” compared with his predecessor when it came to sports betting.

He began exploring a potential partnership with a sportsbook, and Disney started up talks with DraftKings, which now has more than 30% share of the sports-betting market. At the time, DraftKings had a marketing arrangement with ESPN, by which it would link ESPN.com readers to make online bets through DraftKings.

Despite Cohen’s objections, Disney signalled that it was seeking a new deal worth around $3 billion over a decade, and Chapek and Pitaro gave news interviews, saying that ESPN customers wanted a “seamless” betting option as part of the sports-viewing experience. ESPN had already embraced sports betting within its programming, including in its “Daily Wager” show, which analyses odds for sports matchups.

Pitaro intensified his matchmaking efforts with DraftKings, but from the outset, the two companies were far apart. Disney asked for tens of millions of dollars a year more than DraftKings was willing to pay, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Eventually, DraftKings offered around $100 million a year for ESPN to use its sportsbook, but DraftKings wanted its brand included on any app or marketing as part of the deal. That was a nonstarter for Pitaro. He wanted solo ESPN branding.

His team began negotiating with Rush Street Interactive, a smaller, Chicago-based gambling company. RSI offered ESPN more than $100 million a year, but a deal never came together.

Pitaro felt pressure to secure ESPN’s future, particularly among young male fans who increasingly expect betting to be a seamlessly-integrated part of the sports-watching experience. By this time, Iger had returned to Disney as its CEO after the board ousted Chapek in November of last year, and the company was hard at work on plans to remake ESPN as a streaming-focused platform. Iger had told interviewers that he had seen the writing on the wall for the traditional TV business, which was showing signs of being on its deathbed.

Overall, Disney was struggling. Its foundering share price had drawn attacks from activist investors including both Peltz and Dan Loeb’s Third Point, its streaming business was bleeding cash and its whole traditional television business, more than just ESPN, was suffering as more people dropped their cable TV subscriptions in favour of streaming. Disney is currently exploring potential strategic partners for ESPN and has had talks with major sports leagues about it.

Iger quickly set about trimming fat, announcing $5.5 billion in budget cuts and the elimination of 7,000 positions, around 3% of Disney’s total global workforce.

Soon, Iger warmed up to sports betting. His adult sons’ use of sports-betting apps opened his eyes to its popularity with a younger audience, he told associates. He said that it is “inevitable” that sports-watching and sports-betting will go hand-in-hand, and he blessed Pitaro’s efforts to find Disney a partner. Getting involved with gambling was the only way to ensure that ESPN is able to continue to attract younger audiences, he reasoned.

Along came Penn, the Wyomissing, Pa.-based casino operator turned sports-betting company that also needed a makeover after it got into regulatory and reputational trouble over its ownership of sports-media company Barstool Sports, founded by Dave Portnoy. Several women have accused Portnoy of sexual misconduct—allegations he has denied.

Penn runs casinos and racetracks in smaller regional markets like Lake Charles, La., Biloxi, Miss., and York, Pa., and its CEO Jay Snowden wanted to remake the company into a digital gambling powerhouse.

Snowden first met Pitaro in his office for about a 90-minute meeting earlier this year. Pitaro left thinking Snowden was “a straight shooter” who knew what he was doing, the ESPN executive said.

Pitaro quickly deployed teams working on ESPN’s sports-betting, tech, strategy and marketing into parallel talks with Penn to flesh out what a potential partnership could look like. He said Penn’s technology, including the functionality and design of the app, stood out. In addition, Disney views Penn’s tiny market share as an advantage because ESPN can have more control over branding the app and not have to share the spotlight with a better-established player, according to people familiar with Disney’s stance.

There was a key requirement to move forward with a Disney deal. Penn had to dump Barstool.

When Penn began acquiring Barstool in a series of transactions starting in 2020, the gambling company hoped it would help it build a young customer base. Barstool runs an extensive sports-content operation that has drawn criticism for sexism and some of its employees’ crude behaviour. Gambling regulators ultimately fined Penn for violating rules about marketing to people under the age of 21 and scrutinised advertisements that appeared to promise financial success. Barstool said it was being sarcastic.

Pitaro informed Iger of the talks in an early June meeting, and the CEO liked the idea of a partnership with Penn. Pitaro had long held out hope that Disney could fashion a deal with DraftKings, a market-leading online gambling company that was seen by some inside Disney as a natural fit, but the negotiations had become bogged down.

Pitaro suggested that they end talks with DraftKings. Iger, who felt that the negotiations had gone on too long and DraftKings’ demands weren’t reasonable, agreed. Besides, Penn was offering a better price. It was time to move on.

In June, Pitaro presented the Penn deal to Disney’s board at a meeting in Anaheim, Calif., and in early August, the day before Disney was set to announce third-quarter financial results, Disney announced the $2 billion deal.

Penn needed to rebrand the Barstool Sportsbook app into ESPN Bet under the new deal. To quickly make room for Disney, the company sold Barstool back to Portnoy for $1, just six months after fully acquiring the company. Penn kept the database of 1.5 million online betting customers it has accrued, which the company aims to retain under the ESPN name.

ESPN and Penn have the option to walk away from the partnership in three years if the venture hasn’t captured a minimum market share target. Snowden declined to say the exact target, but said it was around 10%.

“There’s only one ESPN,” Snowden said. “If we were going to make a pivot, there was really one option to do that, and that was with what is the only name that is truly synonymous with sports in the United States.”

ESPN sports programming won’t be pushed into the betting app when it launches in November so as not to slow down the betting experience, Snowden said. Instead, the goal is for ESPN viewers and readers to easily switch back and forth between sports and the betting app.

Pitaro said that many on-air stars are eager to get involved with ESPN Bet, and the company plans to announce an expanded talent lineup to host and promote its gambling-related products and shows. ESPN forged a partnership with former NFL punter and foul-mouthed YouTube star Pat McAfee, who is known for hosting broadcasts in sleeveless T-shirts and making occasional off-colour jokes. He will promote ESPN Bet to his audience.

ESPN is also considering alternative broadcasts of games focused on betting, similar to the popular version of Monday Night Football hosted by former NFL stars and brothers Eli and Peyton Manning that airs on ESPN2 and ESPN+, and plans to promote betting to its growing fantasy-sports audience. Pitaro said its fantasy platform is expected to reach more than 12 million users this year, a 10% increase from the previous year.

“Getting into sports betting is a perceived business necessity for ESPN,” said John Kosner, a former ESPN executive who now runs Kosner Media. “I think this decision has to do more with ESPN’s manifest destiny than Disney’s position on branding.”


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What Your Friends Can Teach You About Money

Millennials and Gen Z are turning to peers instead of professionals for financial advice. They don’t trust banks, and they are tired of information overload.

Sun, Dec 10, 2023 5 min

Colin Saint-Vil got his money education at the dim sum cart, over a steamy plate of pork buns and turnip cake.

A friend offered to pick up the whole tab on her credit card, “for the points.” At the time, six years ago, “for the points” meant nothing to Saint-Vil, now a 30-year-old planning manager in Brooklyn, so he pressed for more details. They lingered over the dim sum meal as a larger conversation unfolded about annual percentage rates, credit-card debt, payment schedules and more.

Millennials and members of Gen Z prefer to seek financial advice from each other than from parents or from financial professionals. They don’t like overwhelming spreadsheets and marketing material written in seemingly foreign languages. They don’t trust big banks and institutions trying to sell them on investment strategies—as many were raised around the late 2000s financial-crisis. And, they are not wrong: There is a lot to be learned from comparing numbers with peers—from sharing salaries to talking out big decisions like home or car purchases.

Saint-Vil said when his father was his age, he had already begun investing in real estate, but with property prices now so high and mortgage rates only just beginning to fall, he said he couldn’t imagine being able to follow in his father’s footsteps. He, like many millennials and Gen Z-ers, describe their finances as “fairly good” these days, though they hold a negative picture of the greater economy, according to a new poll of 18 to 29-year-olds from the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School.

Millennials are still reeling from the impact of back-to-back recessions, all while large bank closures and investing scams dominate the headlines. Younger people report a feeling of “financial avoidance” exacerbated by high inflation and the pandemic-era budgeting.

As of June 2023, Gallup polling revealed a historically low faith in U.S. institutions, with younger generations voicing high skepticism. According to Gallup, only 9% of respondents aged 18 to 34 expressed “a great deal” of confidence in banks; meanwhile, 47% and 28% said they have “some” or “very little,” respectively.

But when it comes to winning back young consumers, these same financial institutions haven’t quite given up, and are rolling out new outreach programs and robo advisors, some of which have helped bridge a connection with Gen Z and millennials, said Keith Niedermeier, clinical professor of marketing at Indiana University. But many young people still say they prefer do-it-yourself investing platforms like Robinhood and Acorns over traditional advisers at more established wealth-management firms.

Andrew Ragusa, a real-estate broker based on Long Island, blamed the twin problems of low housing inventory and high home prices for postponing younger buyers’ ownership. The median age of a first-time home buyer in the U.S. is 35-years old as of 2023, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. That is slightly down from an record high of 36 in 2022, but still two years older than the median age in 2021, which is representative of an ageing first-time buyer trend.

When he talks with younger clients now, he detects a gloomy sentiment. “They try to be optimistic, but the overall sentiment is ‘This is supposed to be the American dream: we get a house and we get some financial security and I just have to have faith it will all work out in the end.’ But they don’t have faith it will.”

Fear and shame around being able to buy or accomplish as much as one’s parents might have financially can crop up when millennials talk to elders about their financial frustrations, said Jodi Kaus, director of Kansas State University’s student financial planning centre, Powercat Financial. She’s found that lessons and advice from friends are often more constructive.

Kaus leads a peer-to-peer financial planning centre that pairs up students to work through financial issues. She works to pair people with similar backgrounds: graduate students with graduate students or international students with international students. Talking with someone only a few years removed from your current situation means you’re better able to internalize the messages and execute on their advice, Kaus said.

“Early on, parents even say ‘Are you sure students can help my child?’” she said. “And I say ‘I am more than confident that they can help each other.’

Sharing money tips and financial know-how with your friends doesn’t only benefit the asker, Kaus said. In the Kansas State University peer-to-peer group, the advice giver also learns a lot from their own position, because sharing their story and bonding with a peer helps them to build their own confidence and belief in their financial acumen.

Lindsay Clark, a 34-year-old director of external affairs in Washington, D.C., recalls one lesson she shared with a friend carrying student loans from pharmacy school. Clark works at Savi, a student loan platform, and she offered to cook her friend dinner while they sorted through his loan repayment options. Long after they’d cleaned their dinner plates, they sat together at Clark’s kitchen island, lingering over a plate of homemade hummus and chatting about everything from financial goals to Costco card benefits.

“Those conversations blossom from the transparency, and the visibility makes both people feel really good,” she said. “That creates better relationships overall.”

When you’re talking about money issues with friends, Clark said, you’re not artificially inflating your salary or pretending to know more than you do. And most important, you’re not worried about their ulterior motives.

“You feel safe in that conversation, knowing their intentions are good and they’re not trying to make money off of you,” she said. “And that’s going to lead to better results, because we’re working with the reality here.”

Skepticism of pronounced experts and criticism of established financial institutions is especially common among millennials and Gen Z, Neidermeier said. Studies show people across generations are much likelier to take a friend or colleague’s recommendation to heart over that of a faceless institution, he said; people who spend time on social media just have a greater opportunity to source those answers and field questions.

“What people say to each other over the picket fence is what is the most influential,” he said.

At a certain point, however, talking solely to friends and peers for your financial lessons can be very limiting, said Sarah Behr, founder of Simplify Financial Planning in San Francisco. Relying on your social circle can also put a strain on those relationships; no one wants to be responsible for your disappointment when a financial decision that worked out well for them doesn’t fit as well in your own life.

Behr recommends tuning into your own emotional reactions when assessing peer advice: does the road map they followed align with your own financial values? Does it put pressure on you to live outside your means or challenge your personal risk tolerance? If the answer doesn’t feel clear, that could be a time to outsource to a financial professional who has no emotional connection to you or your financial status.

“‘People have been telling me do this, but I just don’t know if it’s the right thing for me’—I get a lot of calls like that,” said Behr.

Saint-Vil said he and his friends share tips on what high-yield savings accounts offer the best rates, and when he did his credit card research, he chose a card recommended by a friend. When it comes time to work with a financial adviser or even one day a wealth manager, he’ll likely work with someone recommended through a peer. Behr said close to 90% of her business comes by way of client referrals.

Since that first conversation over dim sum, Saint-Vil has thrown his own card onto the table at meals and shared his knowledge with other pals who look confused.

“I have a real wide range of friends who are in many different financial places, but I would say a rising tide lifts all ships,” he said.

Julia Carpenter is the co-author, with Bourree Lam, of The Wall Street Journal’s “The New Rules of Money: A Playbook for Planning Your Financial Future,” a personal-finance workbook published this week by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.


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