NBC Sports Washington garnered a bit of attention back in January when it debuted an alternate betting-themed feed of select Washington Wizards games. Also included in the broadcast was a free predictive contest called “Predict the Game” in which viewers could compete for prizes by answering questions about what would happen in the game.
The telecast was well-received, and its success pointed to a future in which broadcasts of this type are more commonplace. That future may be arriving sooner than expected, as NBC Sports Washington is going back to the well for more of the same as we head into the all-important NFL betting season.
First Interactive Live NFL TV Presentation Unveiled
Last week, NBC Sports Washington brought back the Predict the Game feature for a telecast of a Washington Redskins preseason game. The Redskins were in Cleveland for the first full week of the preseason to take on the Browns.
While there is interest in preseason games when it comes to checking out the rookies and getting a first look at teams for the year, it’s not at the level of a regular season NFL contest. However, it makes for a great spot to test the feature in front of an NFL audience.
As shared on Redskins.com, the team is quite optimistic about what the future holds on that front. Here’s what Redskins Senior Vice President had to say about the telecast:
“We’re thrilled to partner with NBC Sports Washington to bring the first predictive, free-to-play live game telecast to the NFL. This partnership strategically aligns with our organization’s commitment to constant innovation for our fans. We are continuously working to enhance the fan experience and strive to identify new, meaningful ways for our incredible fans to engage with our team.”
For the record, the Browns won the game by a score of 30-10. While that’s a bummer for the Washington faithful, the viewing audience can at least say they were part of a historic NFL broadcast.
More to Come for Remainder of NFL Preseason
Last week’s interactive broadcast was not a one-off event. The network will offer the alternative broadcasts for the team’s remaining preseason games as well. Here’s what the viewers in the DC area have to look forward to:
- Thursday, August 15: Redskins at home to take on Cincinnati Bengals, 7:30 PM EST
- Thursday, August 22: The team travels to Atlanta to take on the Falcons, 7:30 PM EST
- Thursday, August 29: The club is home to face the Baltimore Ravens, 7:30 PM EST
From a competitive standpoint, the game on August 22 shapes up as the most intriguing. That’s the third week of the NFL preseason. Traditionally, this game is considered to be the “dress rehearsal” game for the regular season. As a result, starters have a tendency to play longer than they would for the rest of the preseason.
The other two contests will have their moments, but the Predict the Game feature could keep fans engaged regardless. Naturally, that’s what NBC Sports Washington and the team are hoping for.
“We are committed to delivering the most engaging experience possible to fans, so the opportunity to partner with the Redskins to combine live NFL action with predictive gaming this preseason is something we are very excited about,” said Damon Phillips, NBC Sports Washington SVP and General Manager.
Will This Inspire Additional Betting-Themed NFL Broadcasts?
The NFL is a copycat league, and we can say the same about the world of broadcast television. So, will this innovative telecast from NBC Sports Washington inspire others to do the same?
We’ll err on the side that assumes it will happen, but the situation is a little complicated due to the NFL’s various broadcasting deals. While preseason games are typically carried by local affiliates, that’s not always true in the regular season.
The NFL has primetime games on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday nights. They’re carried by Fox/NFLN, NBC, and ESPN, respectively. Sunday afternoon games are basically split between CBS and Fox.
For a predictive feature to be included on NFL broadcasts in the regular season, one of the national partners would have to get involved. That could take some doing, but it’s also probably not that far off.
As we touched on a couple months back, sports betting continues to go mainstream, so it’s not the taboo topic that it once was. ESPN and FS1 (Fox’s cable arm) already have betting-themed talk shows as part of the regular lineup.
Earlier this year, Fox made its future intentions pretty clear with the huge announcement of a partnership with The Stars Group. The partners plain to unveil FOX Bet later this year. There will be a free-to-play component as well as a platform for real-money wagers geared to those in states with legal sports betting.
Eric Shanks, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Producer of FOX Sports added this:
“FOX Sports is already synonymous with the best live sports events in the country and now we are expanding the way we immerse fans in the sports culture they love. Digital sports wagering represents a growing market opportunity that allows us to diversify our revenue streams, connect directly with consumers and expand the reach of the FOX Sports brand.”
CBS Sports has a fantasy and betting-related product in Sportsline. The network also has a cable arm known as CBSSN featuring chatter on both topics. Several years ago, NBC Sports tried its hand with a free NFL fantasy sports game.
Add it all up, and it’s not too tough to envision a future in which the broadcast giants wade increasingly further into the sports betting waters. For now, those in the NBC Sports Washington viewing area can get a first-hand look at what the future may hold.