Legalized Sports Betting Could Be A Boon for Live TV As Well

The US sports betting boom will not be reserved solely for brick-and-mortar and online sportsbook operators. For example, states in which sports betting has received a green light are already seeing their coffers boosted via additional tax dollars.

That will only continue as additional states climb on board. While operators and tax offices will be the largest beneficiaries of wagers being placed in a legal fashion, there will also continue to be a significant trickle-down effect.

One need look no further than the sudden spike in gambling touts all over the internet and social media. Numerous outlets and publications have at least enhanced their coverage of sports from a betting perspective, while others are going all in and using it as a focal point.

It’s somewhat of a gold rush for those in the industry, as well as for those interested in joining in. The same holds true for the place where the majority of consumers head to catch live games and events: television.

While the death of traditional broadcast television has been trumpeted for some time, there’s one segment that continues to hold strong. That would be live sporting events, which continue to attract eyeballs to the screen.

On the streaming front, that also holds true. It should come as no surprise that many cord-cutting options tout the ability to view live sports as one of their key selling points.

Sports on the tube has been big business since the early days of TV, and it may get even bigger in the future. As a recent survey conducted by Prodege for Variety indicates, sports betting is poised to be a major driver of that.

Skin in the Game Makes Folks More Likely to Watch

The survey data was collected towards the end of May. Responses from over 500 people who identified as active or interested gamblers were included. A good portion of the respondents were in states in which sports betting is already legalized, while many live in states in which it’s just not an option as of yet.

The findings are nothing short of fascinating, and we would imagine many league executives and TV honchos are grinning ear-to-ear as a result.

Of the active bettors in states in which wagering is legal, 54 percent indicate they’re more inclined to watch a game when gambling is involved. For those who identify as interested in sports betting, 82 percent say they’ll watch a game when they have placed a bet on it.

The interest is further piqued among those who live in states in which sports betting is not yet legal. A whopping 88 percent of respondents in that category say they’ll be more eager to watch a game for which they have money involved.

While gambling dollars driving the consumption of live sports is not a new concept, the survey results help to further crystallize the potential reach and impact of legalized sports betting.

So Which Sports are Poised to Benefit the Most?

The survey tackled this question as well. Unsurprisingly, the NFL is at the top of the list. Here’s the key takeaway from this part of the survey, courtesy of Variety:

“The NFL, NBA, NCAA and MLB are the sports organizations best positioned to benefit from additional viewers resulting from gambling, with around 9 in 10 active or interested in gambling saying they’d be interested in betting on a football game, just over half saying basketball, and a little under half, baseball. The interest in gambling mirrors the overall popularity of these sports. Of note was that 1 in 5 said boxing was a sport they would be interested in having a flutter on, coming in ahead of soccer and golf.”

Naturally, the survey also found that interest would be highest in the biggest events on the sporting calendar, with the Super Bowl being the largest driver. Behind that are events such as the NBA Finals, the World Series, March Madness, and tournaments like the World Cup of soccer.

While 79 percent of respondents indicate that interest would be highest in championship events, 62 percent note that they will likely be even more interested in the teams they follow. Interestingly, 10 percent say that betting could inspire them to watch sports they don’t follow at all.

The simple lesson from all this is NFL betting leads to increased NFL viewership, NBA betting leads to increased NBA viewership and so on down the line for every league.

Sports Viewing Numbers are Already Massive

Here’s one of the more intriguing points to ponder after viewing the results of this survey: Since the viewing numbers for big events are already huge, how much further can they rise?

If we look back to the 2018 rankings of the top single telecasts of the year, courtesy of Nielsen, we find that the top four programs of the year were all NFL broadcasts. If we expand that out to the whole Top 10, five were NFL broadcasts, while another was the College Football championship game on ESPN.

That being the case, it should come as no surprise that major sports leagues are able to command a pretty penny for broadcast rights. For example, the NFL’s TV contracts are set through 2022, but there are already rumblings that a pretty big bidding war is set to break out.

If we add the various streaming and technology giants into the mix with the broadcast networks as expected, then all bets will be off in terms of what the final tally will be. In today’s fractured media landscape in which options rule the day, the NFL is still standing strong as one of the few appointment viewing options out there.

What This All Means for Bettors and Viewers

We have already discussed in depth the rise of sports betting programming, which you can read about here. As sports betting continues to go mainstream, we can expect more of the same.

As opposed to being just a curiosity, interactive broadcasts could become more commonplace. Things like odds, totals, and point spreads may be featured more prominently on the games themselves. It wouldn’t be stunning to see the various broadcasters and leagues take a more proactive approach when it comes to gambling.

Sporting events will continue to attract large amounts of viewers, and that means that broadcast rights fees will grow even larger. Additional competition from streaming and tech companies will force all involved with providing programming to the masses to be at the top of their games.

The biggest beneficiaries of that will be the viewers and bettors. After all, there’s a big trickle-down effect in progress due to the legalization of sports betting.