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Ted Leonsis: Betting Makes ‘Sports Programming Even More Valuable’

“It used to be, there would be a blowout and everyone would tune out. Now you’re watching until the end of the game to see what your bet will be.”

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Sports betting has exploded in the United States since the Supreme Court ruled against a law that banned commercial sports gambling throughout the country. Legalized sports betting has been adopted in one form or another by more than 30 states, creating a market that has produced over $52 billion in revenue.

On the latest Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, reporter Jim Frankel looked at the sports betting phenomenon, reminding viewers that professional sports once distanced itself from gambling. Two of baseball’s biggest scandals, notably the 1919 Chicago White Sox deliberately losing the World Series and Pete Rose being banned from the sport, involved betting.

Yet betting has now become so incorporated with sports that ads for sportsbooks and betting platforms flood advertising during sporting events and at venues. Studio shows discuss betting, often in sponsored segments, during pregame, halftime, and postgame coverage.

Frankel spoke with one professional sports team owner who’s embraced betting fully. Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards, Capitals, and Mystics, has opened a Caesars Sportsbook in Capital One Arena. Fans attending games can place bets right there in the building.

Here’s a clip from Frankel’s feature, titled “Legalized Sports Gambling”:

“There was a lot of angst about sports betting. What was the audience going to be doing?” Leonsis told Frankel. “This is the fastest-growing new business in Washington, D.C. and it’s unfolded the way we’re expecting.”

Frankel also includes interviews with fans placing multiple bets and spending hundreds of dollars (if not more), who enjoy the thrill of having an investment in several events. But he also follows a fan whose life was ruined by his betting addiction.

However, Leonsis is among those looking at the bigger picture, who see gambling making sports even more lucrative and more important to fans.

“It’ll make sports programming even more valuable because you’re much more engaged,” said Leonsis. “It used to be, there would be a blowout and everyone would tune out. Now you’re watching until the end of the game to see what your bet will be.”

The latest episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel debuted Jan. 25 and is available across HBO networks. The show can also be seen on-demand and streamed HBO Max.

Sports TV News

Warriors Fans Throw Objects At Charles Barkley On Inside the NBA Set

“Barkley yelled back at the crowd but never actually left the set.”

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TNT/Larry Brown Sports

Charles Barkley is no stranger to being the object of fans’ ire. The cities of San Antonio and Cleveland have a history of being the butt of the Round Mound of Rebound’s jokes. Thursday night in San Francisco, fans of the Warriors took things to a different level, throwing objects at Barkley on the Inside the NBA set.

The TNT studio show was broadcasting live from outside the Chase Center. The crowd chanted “Chuck, you suck!” at Barkley before the game. After Golden State clinched a birth in the NBA Finals, things got physical.

Fans threw things at the set, including a rolled-up t-shirt, which hit Charles Barkley in the back of the head. That resulted in Barkley leaving his seat and bowing up to the audience.

“Come on Chuck!” Ernie Johnson pleaded as Kenny Smith repeatedly said “Sit down Chuck.”

Barkley yelled back at the crowd but never actually left the set.

Now that the Western Conference Finals are over, TNT’s NBA schedule has concluded. That doesn’t mean Charles Barkley won’t return to San Francisco for the NBA Finals, but it is highly unlikely given the reception he has received there.

Barkley spent most of the postseason telling Golden State fans they were annoying and need to shut up and saying the city of San Francisco has “dirty ass streets”.

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Jon Miller To Call MLB Sunday Leadoff Game On Peacock

“According to a press release, Jason Benetti has a scheduling conflict.”

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Rich Eisen Show

Legendary play-by-play man Jon Miller will be returning to the national broadcast booth on Sunday. He will call the San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds game for Peacock. He’ll be joined in the booth by Barry Larkin and Shawn Estes.

According to a press release, Jason Benetti has a scheduling conflict. Benetti, the regular play-by-play voice of Peacock’s MLB Sunday Leadoff, is also the television voice of the Chicago White Sox. NBC Sports Chicago has prioritized this weekend’s series between the White Sox and Cubs, making Benetti unavailable to the national broadcast.

Miller has been calling Giants games since 1997 and previously shared the Sunday Night Baseball booth on ESPN with hall of famer Joe Morgan.

The broadcast, called MLB Sunday Leadoff, will begin at 11 a.m. with pregame coverage hosted by Ahmed Fareed. The game broadcast begins at 11:30 a.m.

The game will take place in an exclusive two-hour broadcast window prior to the start of the rest of the league’s day of games.

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Amazon Eyeing Pat McAfee For Thursday Night Football Megacast

“No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.’

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First it was the Mannings. Now it’s McAfee. Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that Pat McAfee could be at the center of an alternate broadcast of Thursday Night Football on Amazon in the 2022 season.

No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.

Rumors of Amazon’s interest in McAfee began to bubble up last month. While he never directly addressed them, he did make mention on his show that he was “up to something” and insinuated that Amazon wasn’t the only company he was talking to.

McAfee has said on his show in the past that he wants to be part of an NFL broadcast. However, he is firm in that it would not be in the broadcast booth.

“I can’t call games. Not yet,” McAfee said on a show in February. “Have to be done with this show to call games. Because that’s like a 3-day, 4-day thing.” 

In addition to his daily show, McAfee is also committed to the WWE. He is on the road for Smackdown every Friday.

There is no word on exactly what a Pat McAfee-centered broadcast would look like. When reports first came out regarding discussions with McAfee, Ryan Glasspiegel of The New York Post reported that moving The Pat McAfee Show to Amazon was on the table. If that happens, it would make sense to use his entire crew on the Thursday Night Football presentation.

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