As sports betting legalization sweeps the United States, the coverage of sports is adapting and evolving to reflect new markets and meet customer demands – an obvious response for any responsible industry.
This legal betting product has enabled major sports, who once fought the legalization, to embrace a fresh way of presenting their in-person and broadcast experience, one which allows for interactive dialogues between commentators and viewers/bettors, between teams and their live attendees, to ways previously unrealized.
The NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards are two teams bringing sports betting-centric coverage and commentary to their fans in the form of dynamic television broadcasts. While the local broadcasts of their games appear on the teams’ traditional platforms – NBC Sports Philadelphia and NBC Sports Washington, the alternate channels for both, operating under the NBC Sports ‘Plus’ banners, have launched a series of sports betting-focused broadcasts, known as “betcasts.”
The betcasts provide viewers with live, on-screen data reflecting betting market behavior before and during games, highlight various prop bets and the changes to in-game odds on a variety of betting options, complemented by familiar broadcast personalities and betting experts.
This evening’s 76ers game against the New Orleans Pelicans is the third “betcast” of the season for Philadelphia audiences, with at least six more planned during the season.
PennBets.com offered insight this week on Philadelphia’s betcasts.
“I think as we go on, you’re going to see that inherently people learn more as gambling becomes more omnipresent, and we’ll be able to go in that direction,” said betcast analyst Brad Feinberg. “I’m sure there are going to be some people who watch and say it’s like watching first grade. And there will be other people who thinks it’s too complicated and wish we would dumb it down even more. You’re never going to please everyone. But we want the average person to understand it. That is the primary goal for the time being.”
“We’re here to entertain and we’re here to have fun and we’re here to inform,” added NBC Sports Philadelphia Vice President of Live Events Shawn Oleksiak. “We’re not looking to beat anybody over the head in an analytical fashion. But we are looking to provide the data for casual fans that just want to take a deeper interest in the game.”
Other major sports franchises are getting in the swing of “predictive gaming” applications to engage fans within the stadiums and arenas they are attending or watching from home, all with eye on more widespread legalization of betting and ensuring they are positioned to take advantage of the opportunity.
ESPN recently highlighted the effort of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues in using such apps to understand their local market while increasing engagement.
From a racing perspective, TVG has engaged viewers with some prop-style contests and TIF contributed $25,000 to jockey health-related initiatives connected with its Summer Prop Contest, which generated well over 1,000 entries, earlier in 2019.
With readily available data and widespread distribution, major sports bringing engaging betting or predictive gaming content to its far larger customer base is an obvious next step for their business. We could call it a threat to racing, but on its own, it’s just an embracing of the natural evolution sweeping the country. Racing needs to engage this opportunity, offer far more widely available data and lean into this modernization.