If you live in Nevada, you may be used to hearing on the news about the odds of certain outcomes, from who will win the Super Bowl to the season’s top draft picks. However, for the rest of the country, until recently media coverage of sports only mentioned gambling in “sly, coded language — if it was acknowledged at all.” Because it was illegal to bet on sports prior to 2017’s landmark Supreme Court decision overturning PASPA, on-air discussions of sports betting were strictly taboo.
Even before the legal status of the practice changed, some broadcasters knew that their audiences wanted to know more about the factors that influenced the odds. Before Murphy v. NCAA, Scott Van Pelt of SportsCenter on ESPN had started a segment on his show called “Bad Beats” which showcased games “that drove bettors wild this past week in sports.” It quickly became the show’s most popular segment, a clear indication that there was an audience out there with a deep interest in sports betting that television programming could fill.
This week the Wall Street Journal reported that Bleacher Report is “launching an NFL show that aims to provide a resource for gamblers, part of what media executives believe will be a wave of such content.” The show, which aims to give insight into “covering the spread,” will be released weekly on Bleacher Report’s app, social media and YouTube and will even offer one fan the opportunity to bet $5000 with one of the hosts over the course of the season.
The show appears to be part of a trend where viewers will be looking to sportscasters for advice on the odds. Dave Finocchio, Bleacher Report’s co-founder and chief executive, calls the movement towards sports betting news in media a “paradigm shift,” predicting that media companies will be expanding their content to appeal to this new audience.
Bleacher Report’s show is not the first to try to gain a foothold with this audience. There is already a betting podcast called “Against All Odds” is hosted by comedian Sal Iacono. The Action Network, owned by the Chernin Group, recently acquired three smaller sports media tech companies and merged them into a news site and podcast network. There seems to be a thirst for a network that focuses on sports betting the same way that networks like CNBC cover the markets.
Paid content is increasing exponentially as well. Charles Barkley’s commercials for DraftKings are everywhere. The campaign is “designed to demonstrate how DraftKings Sportsbook brings fans closer to the sports games they love by adding the fun and thrill of competition to their experience.” While DraftKings’ product is now only available in New Jersey, by raising its brand awareness amongst a national audience DraftKings is looking ahead towards a future when its products will be available more widely. With so many states now considering pro-sports betting legislation, that future is not far away.
As legalization rolls out across the states, companies with this kind of marketing foresight will be ahead of the game with consumers.