ESPN and Other Networks Developing Gambling-Themed Content

ESPN and Other Networks Developing Gambling-Themed Content

With sports betting now a possibility for every US state, the giants of sports television and entertainment are ready to make their move. Back on May 14, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down PASPA, the 1992 federal ban on sports betting, and thus a brand new exciting industry has opened up nationwide.

As reported by John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal, the three main sports television providers ESPN, Fox Sports One, and NBC Sports Network are all developing gambling themed programming to swiftly integrate into their scheduling:

"Like SNY at the local level, expect national sports networks to test new types of gambling-related programming. Sources say FS1 and NBCSN already have started to look into developing gambling shows that could make their schedules as early as this fall. Plus, sources say ESPN will have two gambling-related shows up and running on its over-the-top platform, ESPN+, by the end of the year."

ESPN Launches New Show This Week

Living up to its mantra “The Worldwide Leader in Sports”, ESPN premiered its new gambling show first. The program titled “I’ll Take That Bet” was announced via Twitter as available to be streamed on ESPN+, the network's new online streaming service.

ESPN partnered with the Action Network, a premium sports analysis and media company that is comprised of Sports Insights, FantasyLabs and SportsAction, to produce the show. Veteran sports media executive Chad Millman serves as the head of media for the company and appears on the show alongside former Major League baseball player Paul Lo Duca.

“We got lucky with the timing,” Millman said. “We had been talking with ESPN for a while about this.”

The show’s first episode covered the NBA Finals which began that same night, whether LeBron James would decide to stay in Cleveland in the offseason, several baseball games, the upcoming NFL season, the Stanley Cup Final and even the Belmont Stakes.

The show will routinely feature Millman, who also formerly worked as an editorial director for ESPN, Lo Duca, who’s established himself as a TV personality after his baseball career, Matt Moore, an NBA reporter, and Geoff Schwartz, a retired NFL football player.

Network Has Been Ready for Sports Betting

The show is by no means ESPN’s first foray into gambling themed content as the Chalk section of its website debuted last year. The “Behind the Bets” podcast has also been in existence for a while and SportsCenter host Scott Van Pelt has commonly hosted a “Bad Beats” segment on the nightly news program.

ESPN Senior VP of Original Content, Newsgathering and Digital Media Rob King said that the network has been waiting quite a while to integrate the new programming. King claims the company has been ready for some time to produce a top-quality product to capitalize on legal sports betting.

“We’ve known for years that service fans who care about gambling made sense within our Insider product,” said ESPN Senior VP/Original Content, Newsgathering & Digital Media Rob King. “Our ambition was to be in this space with our premium product at the outset.”

FS1 is one of ESPN’s chief competitors and they, too, have been privy to the rise of sports betting in America. As could be evidenced by an NCAA Selection Sunday show the network hosted in the Las Vegas Hilton Superbook all the way back in 2014, betting has always been something in the back of network executive plans.

SNY Also Jumping in with other Networks

Now the network is preparing to produce its own brand of gambling content along with other stations like the popular local New York channel SNY.

Ourand reported that growth in TV ratings can be expected and that such change is what has led to the growth of NFL Network. Daily fantasy sports have been legal for years in the US and the boom in that business led to a major boost.

In Ourand’s interview with Steve Raab, president of SNY, Raab claimed that sports betting presented an “opportunity for us in the second half of 2018.” Raab was also excited about the prementioned boost in ratings that sports betting-related content would be sure to provide.

“I don’t think there’s any question that it will help ratings,” Raab said. “People who wager on games not only are more likely to watch, but they’re more likely to watch longer. To what degree? I don’t know. But it’s more about it becoming a meaningful contributor to the ratings than if we didn’t have gambling.”

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