TV-centric companies with sports TV operations want you to believe -- even though legalized sports betting has spotty coverage in U.S states -- that sports wagering will be a big deal.
Barclays recently boosted the stock-market value of Fox Corp., including Fox Bet, an online sports betting partnership it entered into in 2019. Right now, it is only available in Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Virtually all TV-centric sports operations have some wagering/gaming connections. That includes ESPN, fuboTV and Sinclair Broadcast Group's regional sports network operations, now with the casino operator Bally’s Sports brand name attached via a partnership deal, and others.
The promise of engagement comes from sports TV viewers; those wagering are more heavily invested.
All that has large implications, in theory, when it comes to TV marketers supporting sports TV programmers. And, as we all know, it’s live TV, still deemed “premium” TV entertainment, to many.
In fact, Madison Square Garden Entertainment and MSG Network now believe their public company separation a few years back, in 2015, wasn’t perhaps a good idea. So they are re-merging.
MSG Entertainment is the business focused on venues it owns or operates, including Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall. MSG Network owns two regional sports/entertainment networks and other properties.
Last year, Madison Square Co. rebranded as Madison Square Garden Sports. In turn, there was a spinoff of its entertainment division as MSG Entertainment.
In 2017, MSG Networks tried to find a buyer but couldn’t find any takers. More recently, MSG networks inked a partnership with FanDuel, which also has a separate deal with the New York Knicks and New Jersey Devils.
Just over dozen states have legalized sports wagering with more in the works. But while wagering continues, it appears to be growing slowly. It doesn’t have real scale yet for many nationally focused TV operations.
What’s the transition? Look to the lower bar of “free-to-play” interactive games for many -- a prelude of sorts to actual sports wagering. But the question is: Will that bring the type of consumer engagement that makes big scores en route to wins?
As the betting business grows, so does the inevitable scandal potential. Whther it is points shaving or refereee driven, when outcomes financially benefit people outside the sport someone will cheat. And in the end this chaeting devalues the product.