A Safe Bet: TV Networks Gain With Legalized Sports Gambling

Are you watching more TV sports because you have some skin in the game? That’s what legalized sports betting will mean to sports TV networks, programmers and marketers.

But how much will analysis attribute this to increases in TV viewing? The dice is still rolling.

Eight states have legalized sports betting so far -- including New Jersey, Delaware, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Mississippi and Nevada. New York and Arkansas recently passed bills.

Speaking on CNBC last week, the CEO of online sports gaming/betting site Fan Duel, Matt King, says New Jersey betting is estimated to be three to four times what was anticipated as a result of bettors who had been doing it illegally.

But that’s not the big promise, analysts say. It will come with new content and technology, where new gambling customers will come into the mix.

Some of that is new technology connected directly to TV stations, such as ATSC 3.0 being installed on a growing number of TV stations.



ATSC 3.0 is projected to give TV stations a big push when it comes to competing with growing digital media platforms, in terms of programming (live and video on demand) as well as advertising and interactive opportunities. The last promise could be key for live sports gambling.

For some time, TV networks have talked about “odds” of one team winning, or the “over/under” point totals of games. But much of this continues to be tangential.

Going forward, TV and gambling will be more connected. Some analysts might say that even your favorite team losing -- in what may be big blowout games/contests -- can still mean viewer interest.

You may be able to bet -- through TV network programming technology -- on how much your team can lose. So you’ll still watch. And angrily turn off the TV set.

Short of encouraging more gambling on many sports analysis shows, true sports gambling integration of TV sports will be a slow build.

While more states are destined to join the legalized sports gambling arena, much of this will still be a state-by-state activity -- not truly national, says FanDuel’s King. From a historical perspective, King says there are complicated state-by-state regulations, including factoring in many different kinds of tribal ownership casinos' agreements.

Near term, marketing/sponsorship deals between sports betting operations and sports leagues are the obvious place where new money can be generated for TV networks.

In the future, this will mean higher ratings and deeper engagement of sports TV advertising. That prediction is something you can bet on.

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