Live Sports Betting Is Television’s Knight In Shining Armor

Written By Derek Helling | Last Updated
Live sports content is like a buoy for the TV advertising industry; however, that presented a limited opportunity for growth. Well, that was before the legalization of sports betting in various states. It seems the only hope for traditional broadcast giants, like CBS, was getting lucky by latching onto a fledgling product that became the wave of the future. Sports betting, specifically in-game or live betting, has the potential to keep television advertising and, therefore, the TV industry itself as a profitable endeavor.

How we watch TV in 2019 compared to 1989

Anthony Crupi, of Adage, recently laid out how live sports programming is the life’s blood of TV in 2019. According to Crupi, nearly a third of people who view such content do so on a “time-shifted” basis. Essentially, time-shifted means anything but watching each episode of a series precisely as it airs in its intended succession. The days when audiences would plant themselves in front of their TVs to watch scripted series’ like Friends or Seinfeld at a set time were once hallmarks of the days’ past. Production studios still create scripted shows, but how viewers consume TV today has changed drastically since the days when George Wendt descended the stairs to a chorus of “Norm!” Even those who use a DVR function to skip commercials but, otherwise, watch the shows as producers intended are among the time-shifter group.

Why live sports is the only thing holding the TV industry together

The exception to this growing trend, however, is live sports content. Crupi states the vast majority of viewers still watch sports programming as it airs in real-time. There is a threat embedded in this revenue model, however. The danger of a “bubble burst,” when subscription prices become too exorbitant for consumers, is real. That’s where live sports betting gallops in gleaming to save the day.

How in-game sports betting will propel the value of live sports

Professional sports leagues, like the NFL, are aware of the value they bring to broadcasters, so they aren’t shy about asking for more money to distribute sports content. As those costs rise, so do the rates the broadcasters charge carriers for such content. That leaves potential carriers, like AT&T’s DirecTV or Comcast, with a “Sophie’s Choice.” Either risk losing subscribers by passing on the increased costs to the consumers or absorb the cost in the hopes that freezing prices will stabilize the subscription counts. Carriers often opt for the former of those two choices. As a result, they struggle to convince wary customers to pay more for the same service and that the product is still a good value. One strategy to address that struggle is in-game betting. As DraftKings’ slogan proclaims, “it’s more fun when you have skin in the game.” People are more likely to watch sporting events as they air if they have $100 on whether Luka Doncic scores the first point in the Dallas Mavericks game, for example. People who want access to live broadcasts of the games they bet on are more likely to open their wallets to carriers despite the rising costs. The money then flows up from the carriers to the broadcasters and then to the leagues.

The eyes are watching

As production studios continue to notice that audiences are watching with their bets in mind, expect more content steering toward that facet of the industry. Whether that means commentary about and overlays showing live odds during games or standalone content focused on the lines like Fox Sports 1’s Lock It In, sports betting feeds the hunger for content that actually gets advertising in front of eyes. Legal sports betting is anything but a death knell to the sports entertainment industry. As far as the TV industry is concerned, it’s a knight in shining armor.