As Fubo Gaming prepares to launch its sportsbook entrant later this year, the company has signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, looking to increase its brand recognition in Ohio before the state legalizes sports betting.
Fubo ads will be prominent in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse starting this season, with additional visibility coming across TV, radio, social channels and the Cavs’ GameDay+ app. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
“Even if the actual legislation is on the way to being passed, you get value by getting in the market early,” Fubo Gaming president Scott Butera said in an interview. “It’s good that we can get kind of a head start on an emerging market, as opposed to an established market where we’re sort of making up for some lost ground.”
In March, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said legalized sports betting in the state was inevitable, but a bill is still working its way through the legislature. At this point, licenses would likely not be issued to betting operators until next spring, at the earliest.
“We’re hopeful that Ohio can soon join the other neighboring states and many other states across the country that have already been able to engage in sports betting,” Cavaliers SVP for global partnerships Shelly Cayette said in an interview.
Fubo’s tie-up indicates the company is confident it will be able to take bets in Ohio when the time comes. With the race on to grab market share across the country, betting companies aren’t waiting for legislation to pass before planting their flags. Earlier this month, PointsBet signed a longterm deal with MLS’ Austin FC, even though sports gambling is unlikely to come to Texas until at least 2023. In certain states, teams are even more attractive potential partners for operators, because they can offer market access via licenses, in addition to exposure.
In a crowded industry, Fubo plans to differentiate itself by marrying its soon-to-launch sportsbook with its existing fuboTV service. “We’re trying to do things a little differently,” Butera said. “We’re this integrated entertainment, streaming, betting, and other forms of gaming experience.” The company has already released a demo of an app feature that would automatically surface relevant bets on a user’s phone synced to the game they’re watching on a smart TV. It has lined up access agreements in Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Fubo is also rolling out free-to-play prediction contests to introduce viewers to gaming as well as to increase viewing times on its platforms. “If a free-to-play game gets somebody to watch more TV … that’s equally as important to us,” Butera said.
Along those lines, the company will sponsor the Cavs’ in-app prediction contest, which the team debuted last season following a bit of COVID-spurred innovation.
“It gave us a way to stay connected with our fans throughout the game,” Cayette said of improvements in the GameDay+ app. “Our focus right now is not about the end game of revenue. It really is just about keeping that fan engaged longer.