“Fifty-six and a half is a number a lot of the fans are thinking about right now…” – Al Michaels on Sunday Night Football.
He did it again.
Al Michaels has a long and storied history of acknowledging point spreads and over/unders. He’s even discussed it on Bill Simmons’ podcast. On Sunday night, he struck again.
With just over four minutes remaining in the Chiefs vs. Bengals slaughter, Kansas City elected to go for it on 4th and 4 inside the 10-yard line. They were already up 45-10. If they converted the first or scored a touchdown, the over hits. If they just decided to take the easy points and kick a field goal, the over hits.
Instead, they failed to convert, and every gambler who bet the 56.5 over failed to cash a winner.
Michaels knew this, and as he’s so expert at doing, found a way to work it into the broadcast so there was at least some level of suspense in a game that was decided before halftime.
Why wouldn’t you talk spreads?
Michaels is almost alone on an island as far as NFL broadcasters who actually understand the gambling component of games.
As we wrote earlier this year, CBS went so far as to ban talk of gambling on their broadcasts (Michaels calls NBC home). This could’ve been, in part, to save their broadcast team the social media ire of flubbing gambling lexicon and general understanding.
However, just because you don’t understand something today doesn’t mean you shouldn’t improve on something for tomorrow.
Michaels obviously understands what he’s talking about and has found ways to weave gambling discussion into broadcasts often when there’s nothing interesting left to cover (Sunday night being a prime example).
We know sports betting in the U.S. is only going to grow and spread over the next decade. Media companies should be embracing gambling talk and education, not running away from it.
Always follow the money
As gambling proliferates state-by-state, gambling advertising will too. From jersey sponsorship, to in-stadia ads, to traditional television spots, viewers are going to very quickly get familiarized with gambling whether they like it or not.
Being able to intelligently discuss odds and lines will be a must.
It goes further than that though.
As cord cutting becomes more prevalent, traditional television advertising becomes less of a revenue stream. Integrating advertising into broadcasts is an obvious natural progression, and sports betting (and to a lesser degree, daily fantasy) are front-runners for monetization.
This stretches past programming and reporting, as we’ve written about previously.
This is about integrating live betting into actual broadcasts where viewers can place a wager in a click or two. There’s a future, probably not that far in the distance, where Michaels not only slyly notes the over-under implications of a decision on the field, but prods the audience to interact with their viewing device to make a bet.
This is a direction horse betting and broadcasting company TVG started exploring almost a decade ago (after being acquired by Betfair). I was part of a team that pitched a number of concepts around this interactive concept.
It behooves sports betting companies to structure their market spends around this sort of interactivity. It can’t just be a blanket branding play anymore. It shouldn’t be. There are significantly more effective means for sports betting entities to spend their advertising dollars.
Take this coming week’s Packers vs. Rams game.
As will be reported ad nauseam, Aaron Rodgers is the biggest regular season underdog of his career against the Rams this Sunday.
This type of story perfectly fits the content distribution model deployed by ESPN, Fox Sports, and others—and would be ideal for activating gamblers.
Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman do their hot take thing, and while live there’s a call-to-action on the TV to wager and direct link to a sponsoring betting site.
That clip is embedded in the ESPN app and website, again with direct links to the sponsoring betting site.
Later, there’s a follow-up story on what the public actually bet. It feeds the news cycle, provides compelling new content, and generates revenue for both the media entity and gambling site.
We all win.
Except for whoever bets against Aaron Rodgers. The chip on that guy’s shoulder…