Legal sports betting has exploded into the radio and television landscape at a rapid pace. New ways for the media to monetize the industry and use it in new and inventive ways are bursting onto the scene. The impact of the game ain’t gonna stop anytime soonbecause it is a lucrative business when you run a radio or television station.
Just this week, 670 The Score in Chicago added a member to their Bulls radio team with a specific role. Alyssa Bergamini will be part of every Bulls show alongside Chuck Swirsky and Bill Wennington offering betting updates. She debuted Monday with an update just before the whistleblower.
Bergamini is part of a new campaign called “Courtside Odds with Bet MGM”. She had pre-match betting line information including the spread, over/under numbers and some player props. To be fair, it looked like a 60 second ad for the BetMGM app, and it probably was. Which brings me to how current the information will be and how relevant it is to the game storyline.
Earlier on the Bulls’ pre-game show, it emerged that Nikola Vucevic won’t be playing in the game due to injury. When Bergamini first appeared, I thought an obvious angle would have been how the line changed without the Bulls center available. It was not mentioned in his first report.
I’m not aware of the deal the station or team has with MGM, so maybe that’s not what they’re trying to achieve. You’d think if they had money on the game, that would be the kind of stuff they’d be looking for, right?
I listened to the update at the end of the first quarter and Bergamini updated the over/under line and how it moved based on the first 12 minutes of action. I’m sure there’s room to grow and I don’t blame her at all for that, not knowing the responsibilities under the deal. Knowing her a bit from my time in Chicago and with the White Sox, she’s a relative newcomer to the market and this is a great break for her. She’s going to pick up a pace and to be fair, her debut came with the team on the road. Bergamini was in the studio and will be for all away games.
When I first heard about this idea, I was a bit skeptical. I’m used to seeing gambling information on the “ticker” or on a Megacast, but not actually on a game broadcast. Especially on the radio, where the action has to be described for let the fan at home know what’s going on in the game. If the format stays as it is, it won’t be the intrusion I feared.
Strangely, on the same night, fans watching the Bulls/76’ers game on NBC Sports Chicago Plus and NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus, got a chance to enjoy an alternate feed, showcasing the sports betting angles of the game. The broadcast was in partnership with ‘PointsBet’ with NBC Sports EDGE’s Sara Perlman, Sixers analyst Jim Lynam, Bulls commentator Kendall Gill and PointsBet bettor Joy Croucher being part of the ‘BetCast’ in both markets. It was laid out as you would expect with charts, with live odds data like spread, over/under, money lines, as well as futures odds and bets on player accessories.
The special presentation debuted on NBC Sports Chicago on April 22, 2021 and dates back to April 2019 on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
The game is embraced by professional sports leagues, including the NBA. It also garners great interest in Chicago and other major cities, so these reports and specialty shows serve a growing audience.
Over the past two years, the game market’s impact on radio and television has exploded. Not just in commercial inventory, but in shows for those who play or want to learn more. VSiN, The Daily Wager and NBC Sports Edge to name a few on the TV side. Audacy’s BetQL app is a big player on the radio side.
Gambling is and will always be part of sport and now everything is legal. So why not just accept it and enjoy it? Personally, I am first and foremost a sports fan. I don’t play often, but I find it very interesting. I want these shows to educate me as much as they inform me.
After talking to some people at the recent BSM summit in New York who serve as “gaming experts” at various outlets, I’m pretty happy with the approach. Joe Fortenbaugh is part of the “Daily Wager” on ESPN.
“It’s been fantastic and it’s great to see that not only are people interested because they know there are financial implications, but they’re also educating themselves about it. They learn more about the company,” he told me behind the scenes of the BSM Summit. “3 years ago we could use certain terms to talk about underdogs, and things like that, people were like, ‘I’m still trying to figure it out’, that’s where I think the market hurts the most. served sports betting is at the current moment.
Fortenbaugh continued, “People want to be able to talk about it, they want to have fun with it, but we also have to understand that it’s a completely different language for a lot of people.” He also highlights the need to remind people to gamble responsibly.
These people get the hang of it quickly and they will need it because of the ever-changing sports landscape. Get on board or you might be left behind. Even in some of your favorites like baseball. The thought process is that you will likely attract more people with gambling discussions than you will lose them.
“I think you’d have to be naive to think that the game doesn’t go into all facets of all sports, so that’s first and foremost,” said Dan McLaughlin, the St. Louis Cardinals for Bally’s Sports Midwest. at USBETS. “In terms of broadcast, I don’t know where this is going to take us, and I mean that sincerely. Some people who have never made a bet and never will just want a traditional show. But, also, there is has people who have placed certain bets on certain sports and they will be drawn into explosive play, sometimes into a tight end, whatever.
“It’s a way to keep the fans interested. I think it’s coming, and I think it could be another aspect to offer fans during a game. You may not totally draw it, but you can draw attention to it.
What was once a long shot, even talked about on the radio or TV, is now the heavy favorite to win. Don’t bet against gambling discussions popping up where you least expect them. What used to be taboo is now something to be reckoned with. Money talks and stations across the country are listening intently.