Within a year of the 2018 SCOTUS ruling that gave states the go-ahead to legalize sports betting in their own jurisdictions, it was clear that sports media was prepared to link its future with the new gambling activity. By 2019 many in the sports betting industry had come to realize that, with the help of sports media, sports betting could help sports leagues meet their goals of bolstering the value of their broadcast rights, had the potential to help casinos build new relationships and would help sports publishers boost their revenues. This opens all kinds of new potential. For instance, attracting new sports betters by looking at the successes of online casinos where no deposit bonus casinos have great offers to attract new players.
Sports media has found itself squarely in the middle of the new legal sports betting dynamic and it can only benefit from its new position of power. “It’s reshaping the entire sports marketing industry, and you’re seeing a lot of publishers factoring it into their content plans,” said Rick Martira, CMO of PointsBet sportsbook, to thelowdownblog.com. “You’ll be hard-pressed to find major sports outlets that don’t want to incorporate it.”
Sports Betting USA
Today, sports betting is legal in 23 states and in a multiple additional states, legislators are preparing bills that will legalize sports betting in their jurisdictions as well. The Gambling Compliance projects that by 2024, 40 U.S. states will have legalized sports betting of some kind or another up and running which will boost the existing $150 billion industry. Every type of sports publisher is already knocking at the door.
Publishers are attracted to sports betting because it can be monetized in so many different ways. One of the main avenues involves the affiliate commerce opportunity of sports betting in which commissions are paid out to publishers by sportsbooks – the publishers are responsible to deliver new customers with the value per new customer significant enough to make it worthwhile. Patrick Keane, CEO of Action Network, a media organization that focuses on gambling-related sports coverage, said “For us, the biggest opportunity and to really add a lot of oxygen is going to be converting our readers to sports book operators.”
Both Bleacher Report, which is partnered with Caesars Palace and Vox Media, which has a partnership deal with DraftKings, signed long-term partnership deals this year that will have them creating content that is designed to encourage sports betting. At the same time, publishers are trying to create content that guides sports bettors towards placing wise wagers. Other sports books are finding that media companies are also eager to collaborate and are able and ready to provide the distribution needed to move content creation operations ahead.
One sportsbook giant, PaddyPower BetFair, has powered with FanDuel which controls the TVG cable television station, enabling FanDuel to deliver a 100-person studio that produces live sports programming 24/7. Currently, most of the programming is focused on horse racing but the studio can expand its programming to include other sports with a minimum of effort.
FanDuel produces its own punditry and analysis show about sports gambling, “More Ways to Win,” which airs live twice weekly. It has also signed exclusive deals with well-known sports betting aficionados and co-produces digital shows about betting with operators including Barstool Sports.
The question on everyone’s mind is, what kind of cut of the action will sports media get? Now that the sports betting industry operates legally, sports media insiders expect that they will be able to look forward growing their industry along with the sportsbooks, leagues and government.
Barry Bedlan, director of sports products for the AP, is predicting that, in the near future, news organizations in states with legalized betting will be publishing material from reporters who write exclusively from the position of a sports bettor. Reporters covering a team will inject data for gamblers into routine coverage –--for instance, noting whether a team covered the point spread in a game recap or commenting on the impact on the betting line of a star player’s injury. Such types of reports aren’t completely new to sports journalism but sports fans who follow the sports page can expect those types of reports to become more common alongside picks and predictions.
People could even start paying more attention to weather reports which might also have some information for sports bettors – how will the over/under be affected by the appearance of snow during a team’s home game with opponents from warm climate?
Sports media is now facing the question of how soon – and how deeply – it should jump into covering sports gambling. That depends on a couple of questions, including whether sports betting is legal yet in the media operation’s home state. But the success of platforms like Vegas Stats and Information Network is giving many who might otherwise be hesitate food for thought.
The Vegas Stats and Information Network launched in 2017. Well-known newscaster Brent Musberger, formerly of ESPN, is the face of the multiplatform gambling news outlet which now features live streams, podcasts and a Sirius channel. The online stream provides bettors with information about trends, spreads, historical relevance, injury reports and more. It’s become the CNN of the gambling market. It’s expanding massively and its cross-platform distribution model provides some of the world’s major news organization with data that educates consumers about sports betting.
Musburger was quoted on sporttechie, explaining that, ““We sort-of synthesize what happens on the field or on the court, and then talk about how it impacts the betting markets. It’s a completely different conversation not relevant to all sports fans. But if you are betting in-game, what we’re doing has tremendous value to you. We’re having a discussion about how the line would move should there be an interception at a football game. To the people who do have money at risk, it’s an informative discussion that they want to be a part of.”
Wait and See
Some sports media observers suggest taking a wait-and-see approach. They say that, before pouring money into the new field, it’s necessary to determine the audience and see if there’s an appetite for gambling analysis. Much depends on how big the sports betting market will grow. Will new people be wagering? Do those who used to bet illegally want to take advantage of mainstream analysis and move to the legal market?
They should look at the media organizations that have already invested in sport gambling journalism. These media outlets are seeing startling results. In 2015 the Las Vegas Review-Journal assigned a reporter to full-time sports betting coverage and the paper saw, almost immediately, that the betting videos and stories had become the sports section’s top draws. When reported and analyzed in a way that takes the perspective a sports bettor in mind, stories receive more attention from readers. Review-Journal editor Bill Bradley commented, “Basically, it’s found money.”