Earlier this week, John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal reported regional sports networks would look to launch sports betting related shows before they become common on a national level. Because sports gambling will be legalized individually by each state, it’s logical to expect local networks to emphasize sports betting as it becomes legal within their region.
With New Jersey expected to legalize sports betting soon, SportsNet New York, which serves most of New Jersey, will be eyeing the addition of betting coverage to their lineup.
“Our hope and expectation is that this is an opportunity for us in the second half of 2018,” SNY president Steve Raab told Ourand. “There are some states and some networks where my guess is that it could be a year or two — or never — before there’s an opportunity.”
New Jersey was hoping to be open for sports betters by Memorial Day Weekend, but fell short of that goal. According to USA Today, Delaware will now be the first new state to offer sports betting, opening for business on Tuesday June 5th.
Sports gambling programs reaching the national stage on ESPN or FS1 will depend on how quickly states follow suit to join Delaware in legalizing the practice. ESPN won’t put resources towards a wagering show if Delaware is the only state where sports betting is legal, however, once the number of states with legal sports gambling reaches 25 or 30, national networks will need to adjust their programming accordingly.
While ESPN and FS1 might not be ready to put a gambling show on their national network, Ourand reported the new subscription-streaming platform, ESPN+ has launched a betting show in conjunction with The Action Network.
I’ll Take That Bet is the first sports wagering related content on the ESPN+ platform, hosted by The Action Network Head of Media, Chad Millman along with retired NFL player Geoff Schwartz, NBA reporter Matt Moore and former MLB All-Star Paul Lo Duca. Two of their betting experts will be featured in each 15-minute show, with all of them alternating to select 10 bets off a betting board. Shows will be released multiple times per week in the 5:00 – 6:00 pm ET hour.
ESPN and The Action Network were reportedly working on a gambling show for ESPN+ prior to the Supreme Court decision on May 14th allowing states to legalize sports betting. It’s probable they were planning the show prior to the decision, but ESPN and The Action Network knew the Supreme Court decision was coming soon. Had the Supreme Court surprisingly ruled in the other direction, disallowing states to legalize sports wagering, it’s unlikely they would have rolled betting related content on ESPN+.
“Our ambition was to be in this space with our premium product at the outset,” said ESPN Senior VP/Original Content, Newsgathering & Digital Media Rob King.
“We know this content has its audience,” King told SBJ’s Ourand. “We’re putting together a strong portfolio of content and distribution for ESPN+. This will add value overall.”