Sports TV News
Gambling Has Little Effect On NFL Ratings in 2019
“If gambling is generating a ratings boost, it’s reasonable to expect to see a return in Philly and Pittsburgh where their seasons in 2018 and 2019 embodied nearly constant variables.”
After a downswing in TV ratings caused concern for the NFL in 2016 and 2017, the league bounced back with a 5% viewership uptick in consecutive seasons. Timing for legalized gambling parallels the ratings bump, but according to Bill King of The Sports Business Journal, betting hasn’t yet generated an increased for NFL viewership.
As legalized sports wagering expanded into several states, there has been many investments into gambling-related content. Leagues, teams and TV networks create new betting partnerships and programming, but according to King, its not adding to TV ratings.
According to the article, 2019 TV ratings in Philadelphia for NFL games on FOX, CBS and NBC affiliates only saw a 1 percent increase over the 2018 season. The Eagles made the playoffs with a 9-7 record during both seasons, representing a constant when analyzing data, but even with legalized gambling, local NFL ratings still only saw 1 percent growth.
Similarly in Pittsburgh, the Steelers barely missed the playoffs in both seasons, but TV ratings were down 3 percent in 2019. The article notes ratings were down in Indianapolis where legalized sports gambling was approved in September, but the Colts also lost their starting quarterback Andrew Luck less than a week prior.
If gambling is generating a ratings boost, it’s reasonable to expect to see a return in Philly and Pittsburgh where their seasons in 2018 and 2019 embodied nearly constant variables.
Several sportsbook executives offered explanations to SBJ’s King, as to why legalized wagering hasn’t created an increase in TV viewership.
“These people [betting now] were watching anyway,” said Fox Bet CEO Robin Chhabra. “As the sports gambling market matures and you have more [casual] people coming in, it will be those people who will tune in more often and for longer. There are early signs that that will be the case. But you’re not going to see that at the moment.”
“The thing I constantly tell people is: This is going to take time. Be patient,” said Sara Slane, a sports betting industry consultant. “While I do think that sports betting is going to be the greatest fan engagement tool that the sports industry and media industry have ever seen, to get to that point a lot of steps are going to have to happen.
“The operators are seeing a lot of success with avid sports bettors, but I think they have yet to scratch the surface with those casual bettors, which is the ultimate goal. Once they start crossing over to that, you’ll see more of a direct link between legalized states and an increase in viewership.”
A lack of examples to this point doesn’t mean sports wagering won’t lead to increased TV ratings eventually, but for now, it seems that most gamblers were already watching the games.
Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
Sports TV News
Charles Barkley ‘Was so Mad’ at ESPN Coverage of LeBron James
“We all love LeBron, [but] he didn’t say he was retired yet. It should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets.”
When the Denver Nuggets advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in the 47-year history of the franchise, ESPN showed the team’s celebration for all of four seconds. It then quickly switched to a shot of LeBron James, stoic but obviously disappointed, walking through the tunnel back to the Los Angeles Lakers locker room.
Tuesday on ESPN’s First Take, JJ Redick criticized the network’s NBA coverage for highlighting larger markets and a small faction of players considered to be “superstars.” There’s no way to tell if Charles Barkley was watching, but Redick’s point is one he agreed with.
That night on Inside the NBA, Barkley said he was annoyed with the amount of attention put on LeBron James after the game. He wanted to see the reactions of Nuggets stars Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray and head coach Michael Malone to making the NBA Finals. Instead, he and other viewers were inundated with more content centered around the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I was so mad this morning I actually turned the TV off,” Barkley said last night on Inside the NBA, “because the Denver Nuggets sweep and get to the Finals for the first time. We all love LeBron, [but] he didn’t say he was retired yet. It should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets.”
James, for the record, did not even say that he was seriously considering retiring. In a post-game press conference following the Lakers’ elimination, he said he “had a lot to think about” in the offseason.
The Walt Disney Company has reported its most-watched NBA playoffs on ESPN platforms in the last 11 years, according to data provided by Nielsen Media Research. The games have averaged approximately 5.6 million viewers, a 9% increase from the year prior. Moreover, Game 4 between the Nuggets and Lakers peaked at around 11.5 million viewers from the 11 to 11:15 p.m. EST quarter hour window, and averaged 8.2 million over the duration of the contest.
Sports TV News
ESPN Layoffs Resume, NFL & NBA Talent Likely To See Biggest Cuts
“The company is beginning its latest phase of layoffs this week with Vice President of Research, Insights and Analytics Barry Blyn receiving a pink slip Wednesday morning.”
ESPN will look to slash $30 million in salary as The Walt Disney Company’s layoffs continue, with a majority of it coming from talent covering the NFL and NBA. The network’s goal is to have the layoffs completed by the end of June according to a report by Front Office Sports.
Through it all, Max Kellerman’s afternoon television show This Just In could be canceled in order to slot Pat McAfee’s show into the daily programming lineup. Kellerman’s show airs from 2 to 3 p.m. EST, meaning more moves could be on the way to hold McAfee’s statement that his show will air immediately following First Take, which concludes at noon.
Employee morale at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol is reportedly quite low, with people questioning why the company chose to pay McAfee and lay off a litany of its dedicated and longtime staffers.
The company is beginning its latest phase of layoffs this week with Vice President of Research, Insights and Analytics Barry Blyn receiving a pink slip Wednesday morning. More names are surely to follow as The Worldwide Leader looks to do its part to contribute to Disney cutting $5.5 billion in costs. The final round is expected to impact 2,500 employees in different areas of the company.
The company expects to report its own earnings for the first time this November, and sources have stated that the numbers will be impressive. Conducting the layoffs in separate rounds and saving on-air talent for last, however, has certainly played a role in public perception of the moves, and this week’s round will largely impact executives and other personnel behind the scenes.
Sports TV News
Eli Manning: ‘People Enjoy’ When ManningCast Has to Apologize for Language
“We get a lot of curse words, some from Peyton, some from guests.”
The ManningCast on ESPN has become appointment viewing for select Monday Night Football games. Eli Manning loves the fun, laid-back nature of the show he and brother Peyton put on for fans.
But with live TV, sometimes unpredictable things happen, and sometimes people use profanity. Eli, speaking on Tuesday at the 4se sports and entertainment event in New York City, said viewers get a kick out of when the two let occasional profanities slip and have to scramble to say sorry.
“We get a lot of curse words, some from Peyton, some from guests,” he said. “I feel like we’re apologizing for a lot of things on the show, but I guess people enjoy that part.”
Manning has said previously that the goal is for viewers to get the sense that Peyton and Eli are right there with them on their couch watching the game. Eli said it’s been fun getting to show some authenticity now that he’s retired.
“When I was playing, there was a conscious effort; I didn’t want either my fans or coaches to think I had a life outside of football,” he said. “Once I retired, I realized I didn’t have to hold back.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.