As ESPN faces challenges to retain subscribers and raise advertising revenues, it’s opening the door to welcome increased exposure and conversation of sports handicapping on its airwaves. As first detected by Awful Announcing in a network press release, the mothership will utilize former play by play announcer Brent Musburger as a betting expert, live from Las Vegas, during the NCAA Tournament.
According to the release, ESPN will broadcast from a rooftop location at the Beer Park in the Paris hotel and casino. Adam Amin will host the network’s coverage from the “bracket capital of the world” and be joined on set by Sean Farnham, “Stanford Steve” Coughlin, and Dick Vitale. Kenny Mayne will also contribute special features and make on set appearances. Musberger will join the fray to provide gambling advice to sports fans.
Musberger left ESPN in January to direct his energies towards a new handicapping venture, which included hosting a daily radio program, with a focus on sports betting, on a newly created SiriusXM channel. By appearing on ESPN during the network’s NCAA Tournament coverage, the exposure should undoubtedly raise the profile of Musberger’s new projects.
Although sports betting is a huge attraction, it’s an area ESPN and professional sports leagues have tried to distance themselves from in the past. ESPN has loosened the reigns though in recent years. By putting the spotlight on sports handicapping during a highly visible time like the NCAA Tournament, and utilizing Musberger in an on-air role to promote gambling advice, it’s clear, ESPN believes the rewards outweigh the risks of featuring sports betting analysis on it’s programs.