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Sports Betting/Media Marriage Not Going Away

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Sports Betting/Media Marriage Not Going Away
Photo by Scott Graham

Partnerships in the legal sports betting space started out with a trickle but they have become a raging river as the industry heads toward maturity. With legal sports betting’s acceptance becoming more evident by the day, providers are seeing an intense need to expand their reach and attract as many users as possible.

One partnership model that has become increasingly popular is the one between sports betting providers and media companies. Momentum is obvious and measurable for the sports betting industry as the US crawls out of its COVID-19 hole. The trick now is to maintain all of the good that has been done since the Supreme Court overturned its blanket ban on sports betting in 2018 and expand going forward. Having the subject of legal sports betting flood television and media airwaves is definitely a good start.

Some of the Existing Major Partnerships

The latest mega-merger came late last month with NBCUniversal and PointsBet joining forces to provide high-end sports betting content and promotion of the sports betting platform. Prior to that, FOX Sports and Flutter Entertainment, Yahoo Sports and BetMGM, CBS Sports and William Hill, and Barstool Sports and Penn National Gaming got together to provide similar mutually beneficial content.

With most of the biggest players in the sports betting provider space already aligned with media companies, there will likely be some serious competition between the 15 or so remaining providers without such a relationship to corral the remaining media heavy-hitters. Extra pressure may come from the fact that all major North American sports will be in operation at the same time – starting yesterday.

The Benefits of Betting Provider/Media Outlet Partnerships

Exposure and customer acquisition and retention are at the forefront of what has made and what will continue to make sportsbooks successful. Media relationships obviously help with all. A strong media presence with various top-tier outlets provides instant credibility to a sportsbook’s brand and takes that brand immediately into the mainstream.

We need not look further than what Barstool Sports is about to bring Penn National. Jay Snowden, president and chief executive officer of Penn National Gaming recently commented that: “The Barstool brand, loyal audience, and marketing engine will help drive meaningful market share as the product is introduced across our database of 20 million casino customers and Barstool’s audience of over 66 million fans”.

The NBC Universal/PointsBet partnership offers much of the same. NBC Sports provides an enormous reach as the largest sports audience of any US media company, accessing over 184 million viewers and 60 million digital active users. It also provides year-round, multi-platform media and marketing opportunities for PointsBet on all NBC Sports’ highly successful and highly-viewed media platforms. NBC is home to MLB, NBA, and NHL teams, and it delivers more than 2,200 live sporting events every year.

What’s at Stake

The legal sports betting industry brought in an estimated $13 billion last year alone and that with was only a handful states contributing to those numbers. As of today, there are 21 states, including Washington DC that have their own legal platform, with more surely to follow.

Not quite half of the American public is able to place a sports wager legally. Either of the three “Big Fish”, California, Florida, or Texas would take that number to over 50%, meaning that there is a ton of optimism and room for growth for gambling providers and media companies as well as a common sentiment that sports betting is here to stay.

The Future

Of course, it depends on a media company’s appetite to enter a space that had been taboo up until a couple of years ago. But it is clear through previously reluctant sports leagues’ acceptance of the platform, that sports betting will be a huge part of sports and its entertainment focus in the future.

There is no shortage of money being thrown around in the sports betting industry, through add-buys, through marketing agreements, acquisitions and partnerships, and brand development. Smaller betting companies have motivation to step up their games in order to gain the attention of big-media and larger providers. And big providers haven’t been shy about absorbing smaller ones in order to remain “fresh”.

Competition always helps the consumer and the recent trend of media providers and gambling companies is no different. A slew of betting providers and Media Companies are positioning themselves to best take advantage of the relatively new legal sports betting industry in the US – appeasing the consumer is the best way to fast-track that goal.

Expect more partnerships between the two to continue and for more huge dominoes to fall in the not-too-distant future. The future is bright for the legal sports betting industry in the US and media companies appear eager to pounce on the success.