When It Comes To ESPN's NBA Wagering Game, Who Really Wins?

With 1:29 left during Wednesday night’s NBA game between the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers -- and the 76ers up 117-113 -- a key but different moment of intensity was revealed.

“This is point-spread drama!” says Doug Kezirian, sports betting analyst/ “Daily Wager” host on ESPN. ”Overnight line was six all the way up to nine, with all the reports of who was playing and who was not.”

Point-spread drama for sure. But what about the game?

This was a special “NBA Wednesday Night presented by State Farm: Daily Wager Special” on ESPN2.” Perhaps the first time a nationally televised NBA game was called primarily from a wagering point of view.

The 76ers ended up winning 123-117. But not the gamblers. The overnight gaming line had Philly beating Brooklyn by nine points. If you took the 76ers, and gave the nine points, you lost.



But the real losers were some viewers at home. Players get to keep their salaries, even when losing a game.

With the influx of sports betting/gaming growing in conjunction with content on traditional sports channels, commentary and sports reporting are poised to change.

This wasn’t the only wager to make. Kezirian kept viewers updated on the “live” line as well, with 76ers near the end expected to win by at least 4.5 points. You could also wager how many points Kyrie Iriving (Nets) or Joel Embiid (76ers) would score.

Will TV viewers get confused? Not necessarily. This was billed as a special waging broadcast of the game. The show’s commentators talked about game strategy and the plays. ESPN also ran a regular airing of the game on its main network.

The theory for TV advertisers supporting such programming, as well as the networks, is they get more engaged viewers who will go and buy stuff.

But this engagement may have a very different focus -- not necessarily responsive to regular-looking TV commercials during breaks in sports action.

One can wonder whether a Taco Bell commercial with around three minutes left in the game got viewers to buy its new Quesalupa after the game. Another deodorant commercial might have had ‘players’ sitting at home thinking about dabbing on some Old Spice Dynasty.

And there was one TV commercial which seemed closer to the mark. Viewer-wagerers might have been worried about money in the bank after seeing dancing $50 bills via an Ally bank spot.

No worries. Tomorrow, I’m feeling lucky.

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