Fox Corp.’s plans to gain footing in the sports betting market through its FOX Bet brand seem to have stalled amid ongoing ownership issues with partner Flutter Entertainment Plc. The three-year-old FOX Bet app, currently only available in four states, has been reported as “struggling” despite heavy promotion through Fox TV networks, with Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch admitting disappointment at progress thus far.
“We don’t control it – because we’re not allowed to,” Murdoch said at an investor conference on March 10, according to Bloomberg. “It’s only rolled out in four states, which we’re disappointed in, and we’d like to see it rolled out in many more.”
The TV company has a tense relationship with Irish bookmaker and FanDuel parent company Flutter over the Fox sports betting product, launched about three years ago. Flutter bought Stars Group -the online betting company that launched Fox Bet along with Murdoch in 2019- in 2020, and now owns Fox Bet, with Fox having an option to acquire 50% of that business.
However, Flutter already has about 40% of the sports betting space in the US through sports giant FanDuel, while Fox Bet has less than 1% of the US mobile business outside of Nevada, according to a Vixio GamblingCompliance report cited by Bloomberg. Thus, the Irish bookmaker seems uninterested in investing in a second brand, focusing instead only in FanDuel.
Fox also has an option to purchase 18.6% of FanDuel, further reports the cited source. However, the parties can’t agree on a price to exercise that option, and they are now set to go into arbitration in June. The TV company has said it is in “active conversations” with Flutter in terms of their relationship and how it will be handled going forward.
Meanwhile, Flutter CEO Peter Jackson unveiled on a March 1 earnings call that the Irish bookmaker has had talks with Fox to resolve the issue of the company’s option to invest in FanDuel, but no agreement has been reached thus far. “If we can’t get the deal that’s right for our shareholders, we’re very comfortable going to arbitration,” Jackson said.
FOX Bet launched in 2019, aiming to leverage its name in the sports world. However, in addition to failing to expand into a significant share of states, its technology has been described as lagging behind those of major operators in the US.
While the TV company has tried to boost the product’s market share through on-air personalities and space, plus launching free-to-play contests to raise brand awareness, these tactics have failed to remedy the sportsbook’s poor performance.