ESPN NBA Betting Broadcast: Sports betting has been legalized in 25 states and the District of Columbia in the US. As the conversations around sports betting and gambling have become less taboo, media companies and broadcasters have integrated it into their shows.
Ever since the May 2018 Supreme Court ruling that left sports betting legalization to each individual state, media companies have wanted their piece of the action. “You can have a normal conversation about betting,” ESPN Daily Wager commentator Doug Kezirian stated in an interview. “And it will not feel dirty or shady or anything silly like that — period.”
On Wednesday, April 14, ESPN debuted their new alternate sports betting program “BetCast” leading up to the anticipated NBA matchup between the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.
This isn’t the first of its kind though, ESPN premiered their first betting-focused show “The Daily Wager” in 2019.
Sports betting analysts Doug Kezirian, Joe Fortenbaugn, and Tyler Fulghum from the Daily Wager debated and offered their expertise from ESPN’s Las Vegas studio during the telecast, former NBA champion Kendrick Perkins was also hosting the show.
“BetCast” is touted as a more conversational approach to covering betting on sports. Similar to sports analyst talk shows that focus on strategic matchups and storylines leading up, “BetCast” features sitdown discussions on betting.
A pregame show that focuses on pregame odds for spread, money line, and game props, In-game graphics track live odds (spread, total), and is followed by a half-time show featuring first-half betting results and second-half forecasts.
In order to draw inexperienced and experienced bettors, the broadcast will feature customized betting specific graphics designed to immerse viewers “We know the sports fan is evolving in how they use our games and our information, and we need to evolve with them and provide them with alternative experiences,” ESPN vice president of basketball production Mike Shiffman said in an interview.
ESPN previously tested a betting-focused show in January during its airing of the NFL Wild Card matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans.
While the first edition of BetCast is NBA-focused, there will undoubtedly be NFL, MLB, and NHL editions in later seasons.
Future of Sports Programming Looms
The move by ESPN to continue to grow the presence of gambling in its programming is a common trend among sports media companies. Fox Sports 1 was the first to launch a daily wagering program.
NBC Sports has partnered with the Premier Lacrosse League as the lead broadcaster and offers betting-focused graphics and commentary. Warner Media’s Bleacher Report has partnered with MGM Resorts to display odds on pay-per-view matches.
ESPN has sizable rights deals with the MLB and recently secured a large share of the NHL’s streaming rights for the 2021-2022 season. Streaming has replaced cable viewing as a result network companies and leagues are trying to find a way to keep fans tuning into live TV.
The answer to the loss in cable viewing has become creating betting-focused programming that is exclusive to networks. Betting is the ultimate activity one can do in conjunction with content like sports. What better way to get fans to watch live TV than to give them a chance to figure out how to make money off it?