As sports betting continues its meteoric rise across the nation, content options for consumers will continue to grow as well. We’re not just talking about online betting. A plethora of television programs targeted to the sports betting industry have already been unveiled, and there’s no sign the momentum will be slowing any time soon.
In the last few weeks alone, a number of major announcements have dropped from media heavyweights. NBC, Fox, and ESPN are all dipping their toes into the pool, while a number of smaller outlets have already hit the ground running.
Let’s take a look at where sports betting enthusiasts can tune in and what they can expect when they get there.
NBC Sports Introduces Interactive Broadcasts
Earlier this year, NBC made headlines when it debuted a second feed of a game between the Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks. While viewers on NBC Sports Washington received the traditional game feed, the outlet’s Plus option broadcast the game with additional features such as stats and odds wrapped around the screen.
NBC followed that up with the introduction of Predict the Game features for certain telecasts. Viewers are asked questions about what will happen during the game, and they can log answers on the NBC Sports Plus app. Those who participate have a shot at $500, and a leaderboard is shown during the broadcast. David Preschlack, the president of NBC Sports Regional Networks, shared some insight on the concept.
“Fans who have the appetite to place bets are looking for a different type of content experience,” Preschlack said. “We’re all about serving our fans.”
Last but not least, NBC Sports added on digital companion coverage for this year’s Kentucky Derby via the web and the brand’s app. NBC Sports Bet: Derby Special was a 30-minute program which shared plenty of betting insight on the big race.
“We want to become a known destination and a known player in the space in 2019, for sure,” NBC’s director of sports betting content Dan Pozner told the New York Post.
Fox Sports Gets into Gambling
After last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision on sports betting, Fox Sports wasted little time in rolling out a sports betting-themed program. Lock it In debuted last September on FS1. Similar to many other sports talk programs on cable, the show features panel discussions moderated by host Rachel Bonnetta.
The show quickly gained a following. As Bonnetta explained, many viewers have been clamoring for something of this nature related to sports betting.
“It’s incredible that we’re able to have a show that’s the first of its kind covering gambling, but I think that even if you were not a gambler, you’d enjoy this show,” Bonnetta said. “Ever since the show was announced, so many people have come up to me and said, ‘I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen.’”
Fox has also made waves with the announcement of its deal with international gambling giant The Stars Group. Fox Sports has snagged a 4.99 percent stake in the US-facing business of The Stars Group, and the company has the option of increasing the stake to 50 percent over the next decade.
As part of the deal, a new product known as FOX Bet will make its debut in states where gambling has been given the green light.
“Leveraging our proven media partnership strategy with Sky Sports in the UK, we are excited to partner with FOX Sports to integrate wagering into sports media and drive customer acquisition and retention in the U.S.” said Stars CEO Rafi Ashkenazi in a statement.
It’s an interesting deal between two giants in their respective industries. Since sports media is pretty well-known for being a copycat industry, it shouldn’t be surprising that more dominoes are falling.
ESPN Taps Caesars as Odds Data Supplier
Cable giant ESPN was also quick to market with a sports betting program last year. Dubbed I’ll Take That Bet, the show is offered via the company’s ESPN+ streaming service. The shows are just 15 minutes long and are produced by The Action Network, a company founded in 2017 which provides betting content and advice through multiple mediums.
They feature a rotating cast of characters such as former ESPN executive Chad Millman and former MLB player Paul Lo Duca. During the show, two panelists pick 10 bets in rotating fashion and then explain their reasoning behind the wagers. It’s interesting to see the cable behemoth team up with a company which specializes in betting content as opposed to keeping it all in house.
Inspired by the success of its first shot at sports betting programming, ESPN has gone on to add on a show called The Daily Wager, which airs on ESPNews. ESPN executive VP Norby Williamson shared some insight into the company’s thoughts on sports betting content in a statement.
“The sports betting environment has changed and interest is increasing at unprecedented levels,” Williamson said. “ESPN is going to have a strong and vibrant presence across our platforms, and the launch of Daily Wager is the next step in what has already been underway for some time.”
ESPN has also announced a deal with Caesars Entertainment to be the official sports betting odds provider for the network. The two companies have also started working on an ESPN-branded production studio which will be based at Caesar’s Linq Casino. Naturally, plans call for regular betting programming to be produced at the facility.
What the Future May Hold
In addition to everything discussed so far, Turner Sports’ Bleacher Report has also announced a deal with Caesars to produce sports betting shows in Las Vegas.
“We are commingling the data we have about usage, experience and what consumers want with Caesars data, which is some of the most powerful and cumulative data in the world for sports betting,” explained Howard Mittman, Bleacher Report’s Chief Executive.
Outlets such as VSiN – the Vegas Sports and Information Network – are specifically geared towards sports betting, while sportsbook operators such as FanDuel and DraftKings continue to point to a future in which live event streams and betting go hand in hand.
It’s safe to say that this is all just the tip of the iceberg. As sports betting is legalized in more states, there won’t be a lack of content to satisfy the demand from viewers.