With legal New Jersey sports betting having recently passed the one-year mark, sports bettors now have myriad options to place bets.
From 14 NJ sportsbook apps to 10 land-based NJ sportsbooks, sports betting action is only a click or a drive away.
From a media perspective, as legal sports betting ramps up in NJ and 15 more states with either active sportsbooks or pending launch, the volume of dedicated sports betting content has rapidly increased proportionally during the last year.
Media partners are developing gambling content and investing in the future.
While there will always be a gray market (i.e., black market bookies and offshore online sites), the eight states with active legal sports betting will continue to grow in the immediate short term.
In terms of coverage, the legal states represent fewer than 15% of the total US population. While some may see it as “overinvesting,” with 10+ other states nearing various stages of final approval, clearly media companies see the potential and are betting heavily for the future.
Per Brian Musburger, founder of Vegas Sports and Information Network (VSiN):
“Sports gambling is a multibillion-dollar industry that has been forced to operate largely underground, leaving consumers scouring the internet and searching for winks and nods from broadcasters to inform their decisions.”
The view of sports betting, once considered a taboo subject, is now embraced by daily sports news and programming.
The sports betting content tap is flowing freely and may soon approach “firehose” levels.
For example, ESPN’s Wake Up recently had a segment on “How to bet upcoming NHL and NBA Game 7s.” And during the NBA regular season, local cable feeds offered an alternate broadcast where fans could watch the Wizards and 76ers games with a sports betting slant.
Sports betting media programming options
The purpose of this column is to provide a snapshot of the media content focusing on sports betting, which has launched over the past year, along with what a sports bettor can gain from each program.
Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN)
VSiN launched in January 2017 as the first multichannel network dedicated to sports gambling information.
VSiN broadcasts from a studio in the Sports Book of the South Point Hotel, Las Vegas, with an approach to deliver the exclusive and proprietary news, analysis, and data that sports bettors and enthusiasts need to win.
Sports broadcasting icon Musburger is also the managing editor and lead host of VSiN. As Musburger frequently says, “Cashing tickets is what it’s all about.”
While VSiN is not currently available on traditional national “over-the-airwaves” broadcast or cable outlets, the programming is across multiple channel options, including Apple TV, Sling TV, fuboTV plus SiriusXM (Channel 204) and the New England Sports Network (NESN).
VSiN also streams VSiN.com and the VSiN app, with multiple tiers of subscription options to access live video streaming, audio and show replays.
Here is a rundown of the core programming on VSiN:
Follow the Money
7-10 a.m. Monday-Friday
Mitch Moss and Pauly Howard, two veterans of the Las Vegas sports betting scene, combine their knowledge of sports, gambling and pop culture for an entertaining and informative three-hour show called Follow the Money every weekday.
There’s great chemistry between the two while discussing upcoming top plays or bad beats from the previous day. All of this considering that they kick off every morning’s show live from Vegas starting at 4 a.m.
The banter between Moss and Howard ranges from futures bets on Game of Thrones, spotting NHL first period over/under goals trends, or current betting trends with Vegas bookmakers. As with all of the VSiN hosts and guests, they do bet and are always in search of winning angles and information.
With a daily rundown of the day’s upcoming action across every major sport, Moss and Howard will entertain you and help you make an informed sports wagers later in the day or the week.
A Numbers Game
In A Numbers Game, Gill Alexander discusses what is behind the numbers of sports betting. It’s an informative look into the world of analytics, focusing on the unique, lesser-known numbers that fuel today’s modern bettors.
Alexander, who is also the host of the Beating the Book podcast, delivers a series of informed guests in studio and via call-in. Alexander likes to look at the futures markets, with a recent discussion on finding value in current MLB’s Cy Young and MVP betting.
Again, it’s not always about betting sports; you may pick up some tips from Gill’s guest Alan Boston who will opine on how to win at Jeopardy as well as March Madness betting selections.
Combined with the Follow the Money, an NJ sports bettor can find several solid hours of informative sports betting news and data with minimal overlap of betting news and information.
Matt Youmans and Jonathan Von Tobel are VSiN’s co-host of The Edge. Youmans, who leads the three hours of original content, is a former newspaper reporter who covered the Las Vegas scene for 19 years. Van Tobel possesses a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of sports.
My Guys in the Desert
If you were watching Brent Musburger during his Hall of Fame sports broadcasting career covering basketball or football on CBS or ABC/ESPN, you may not have been aware of his under-the-radar interest in sports betting.
The now 80-years-young Musburger keeps a lively schedule. Currently, he’s handling play-by-play chores for the Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas in 2020) Raiders and brings his storytelling talents to My Guys in the Desert to discuss sports and sports betting topics.
His revolving cast of co-hosts includes oddsmaker Vinny Magliulo, reporter and horse racing podcaster Ron Flatter, and professional bettor Amal Shah.
With additional specific shows on weekends that are dedicated to college and pro football on active weeks during the season, VSiN is a one-stop shop for sports betting information.
Fox Sports, ESPN & CBS
Lock it In
4-5 p.m. Monday-Friday
Fox Sports 1
Fox Sports launched Lock It In (@LockItInonFS1) in September. The show airs every weekday on Fox Sports 1.
Rachel Bonnetta hosts the one-hour show, which features a panel of three sports bettors offering insight and opinions on that day’s or week’s sporting events. Todd Fuhrman, Clay Travis and “Cousin Sal” Iacono are the featured handicappers.
Lock It In aims to make the avid sports fan smarter and more informed about the world of sports betting. Fuhrman is a former oddsmaker for Caesars and co-founder of the betting podcast, Bet the Board, backs his picks up with an encyclopedia-like stats and information.
Travis is also the host of Fox Sports Radio’s Outkick the Coverage, and it’s entertaining to watch him hone in on SEC schools bets during college football season.
Iacono has been a writer on the ABC late-night show Jimmy Kimmel Live for 15 years and has a recurring on-camera role as “Cousin Sal” on the show. Iacono also hosts the weekly podcast Against All Odds.
Each of the three panelists is given a mythical bankroll of $1,000 each Monday and will make wagers each day in an attempt to build up their bankroll. The panelist with the highest bankroll total will be named the “King of the Week.” With a diverse group of panelists and bragging rights on the line, there is no shortage of banter, humor and competitiveness making it an entertaining hour of viewing.
While Lock It In may have been the initial foray from Fox into sports betting, the company continues to invest deeper into the space.
Earlier this month, 21st Century Fox and The Stars Group announced the Fox Bet partnership, which will create apps for both sports gambling and free-to-play contests.
The long-term deal (up to 25 years) provides Fox with the option to purchase up to 50% of the Stars Group (aka BetStars) app, which launched in New Jersey in September). It has a range of gambling products but has a limited footprint in the US.
The Daily Wager
6 p.m. Monday-Friday
The Daily Wager debuted on ESPN News in March.
Hosted by Doug Kezirian, a seven-year ESPN vet, the show features a multitude of guests throughout the hour discussing wagering stats and trends of the upcoming evening games.
You will see some familiar faces from other ESPN shows including Stanford Steve from the Bad Beats segment on the SportsCenter late night show and The Bear aka Chris Fallica from College Football Game Day.
The guests contribute to quick two- to three-minute segments covering a variety of games and angles. There is no shortage of stats and information for the viewer, who can also focus on the continuous scroll of scores, data, trends and futures that are featured on the left side and bottom of the screen. Combined with a “Best Bets” feature, for the upcoming games, there’s no shortage of informative content to process over the one-hour show.
The Daily Wager flows well into the format of ESPN News, featuring great production values and the razzle-dazzle that you expect from “the worldwide leader.”
The show’s placement on ESPN News is interesting, as ESPN News has roughly 70% of the total households versus the primary ESPN channel (September 2018, Nielsen) and 20 million fewer households as Fox Sports 1, the home of Lock It In.
Perhaps The Daily Wager will move to a larger platform as additional states approve legal sports betting (i.e., New York).
Also, similar to Fox, ESPN is becoming more invested in sports betting.
Earlier this month, ESPN named Caesars Entertainment as its official supplier of odds data across their TV and digital platforms. Caesars’ branding will be featured on ESPN programming with plans for an ESPN studio at Caesars’ Linq Casino in Las Vegas.
6-8 p.m. Monday-Friday
CBS Sports HQ Online Streaming Network
CBS Sports launched a new show dedicated to sports gambling called SportsLine Edge, which debuted in September before the NFL season on the CBS Sports HQ free 24/7 streaming service.
The show is part of the CBS HQ content lineup.
SportsLine Edge is, in essence, an extension of the SportsLine.com, which was launched three years ago by CBS at the early stages of the US exploration of legal sports betting. While the show clearly has a gambling edge to it, there is also does provide data and information to non-gambling sports fans as well as fantasy sports players
Per Jeff Gerttula, executive vice president and general manager of Sports Digital, the purpose of the show is to give sports fans, fantasy players and line bettors content that will make them smarter about investing in certain games.
The show features a series of SportsLine team of experts including Hank Goldberg, Kenny White and Micah Roberts as well as additional CBS Sports Digital writers and analysts.
Other sports betting shows worth watching
We are less than 100 days from the start of the 2019 college and pro football seasons.
While we don’t know the fall lineup of football programming, the 2018 season saw several football-specific shows that both aired on the TVG network on Sunday mornings, Barstool Sports Advisors and More Ways to Win.
The NFL specifically, and football in general, drives significant sports betting interest. We will update on the 2019 football betting shows once the programming schedules are final.
Additionally, I did want to make mention of some other notable sports betting segments and series worth checking out:
11 p.m. Monday
As part of Monday’s ESPN SportsCenter, Scott Van Pelt presents a segment on sports betting’s bad beats of the previous week.
A popular segment, Van Pelt, along with Stanford Steve, highlight the tough losses from an against the spread or over/under perspective.
Showtime’s four-part docuseries that aired this in March and April explored the legalization of sports gambling and its evolving impact on the gambling community.
Action chronicled lives of professional gamblers, bookies, and oddsmakers throughout the 2018 NFL season. It was a great behind-the-scenes look at the inner-workings and personalities of the sports gambling business.
Let’s hope we can look forward to a Season 2.
Bleacher Report: Investing in gambling content
Bleacher Report has quickly added sports gambling to its digital platforms and expanded its footprint in the space.
Bleacher Report, which is owned by AT&T’s Warner Media, announced a deal in February with Caesars to develop sports betting studio shows inside one of its Las Vegas casinos.
A recent Bleacher Report study found that gambling drastically increases engagement, with bettors being five times more engaged on the site than non-bettors.
According to the company, Bleacher Report’s sports betting category has grown three times faster than any other category.
Per Howard Mittman, CEO of Bleacher Report:
“Because we have an app that has almost 20 million downloads, 9.5 million consumers receiving alerts from us anywhere from five to 20 times per day, we sit on a lot of first-party data. We understand what consumers are doing. We like to think of the app as the heartbeat of the American sports fan.”
Bleacher Report’s gaming-related programming will start later this summer and is expected to reach the 250 million people who access Bleacher Report across social media.
Looking toward the future
One year into legal sports betting, clearly the veil has been lifted on the mainstream coverage of the space.
As casino owners continue to align with sports leagues and media owners (and vice-versa), there is no reason to think that we are only on the cusp of what will be the beginning of sports betting content generation.
And, as more states join the fun, the opportunities to create programming and content will only continue to expand.