There are increasing signs that the oasis of sports gambling advertisement dollars could dry up in a hurry, unless companies become more judicious with how they market their services.
I love betting on sports. Whether I’m getting some soccer action in, or tailing baseball bets from a friend who is an absolute ringer or finding lines that offer great value and using them to add money to my bankroll, it is an indescribable thrill. That said, even I’ve become a bit weary of how much it’s being pushed in my face by sportsbooks trying to separate me from my money.
Monday afternoon, I received two notifications simultaneously on my phone from FanDuel. Via both an email and a mobile app push, I was offered an “exclusive” same-game parlay bet match offer, where I could place a wager and have the funds matched as a free bet regardless of whether I won or lost my parlay.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great offer, and one that I will absolutely take advantage of before it expires. But I’m also a very responsible gambler who doesn’t bet things without research being involved (either my own, or someone I trust to do the work). I set limits and don’t go past them. I can step away if I feel myself losing and wanting to “chase” my losses.
But let’s imagine for a moment that I wasn’t one of those individuals. Imagine I was one of the estimated six million Americans who, according to a recent report from the National Council on Problem Gaming, currently deal with some sort of a gambling addiction. Like alcohol or smoking or any other vice, a gambling addiction is a real problem, and the proliferation of advertisements, “free” bet offers, and “reminders” like mine can cause serious harm for those who struggle with these afflictions. A Swedish study from 2019 indicated that gambling addicts were 15-times more likely to commit suicide than the average person, and that number increases to 19-times for men between the ages of 20 and 49.
A report from iSpot.tv last week indicated that the advertising spend for sports wagering spots was nearly $282 million for the nine-month period running from September 2021 to the end of May 2022. That’s an increase of more than 280% over that same time a year prior. The NFL was the obvious driver of much of this, with more than 42% of ad impressions coming during their broadcasts. The aforementioned FanDuel was responsible for nearly 34% of those impressions, almost the same amount as Caesars and DraftKings combined.
Aside from some common sense regulations prohibiting the targeting of children and a maximum length of an advertisement, there are few legislative barriers in place dealing with the proliferation of advertisements flooding the airwaves. Nobody can blame radio and television broadcasters for cashing in on the windfall. However, there are increasing signs that the oasis of sports gambling advertisement dollars could dry up in a hurry, unless companies become more judicious with how they market their services.
Legislators in multiple states, including Colorado and New Jersey, are openly discussing their concern for how prevalent the advertisements have become, and are looking at potential restrictions moving forward. Another state, Ohio, has been very methodical in their implementation of legalized gambling, and they have learned from other markets by restricting certain aspects of advertising. One of the big ones is the removal of “risk free” terminology from all ads, instead having to be replaced with terms such as “bet insurance” to remove the connotation that a wager costs the gambler nothing.
In the past week, both Charles Barkley and Phil Mickelson have weighed in on the dangers of the flood of spots. Mickelson told Sports Illustrated that he has actively dealt with gambling addiction for years–even at one point having on-course bets with former CBS golf commentator Gary McCord before he would attempt putts during tournaments. Meanwhile, Barkley said that he loves to gamble but that it’s “becoming too much” that people can bet on things like free throws live during a game and he worries that “the toothpaste is out of the tube, and I don’t know how to put it back in.”
In an article this weekend by Wired, multiple comparisons were made between the American sports gambling explosion and the similar early days in England, who are currently taking active steps to heavily curtail the impact advertisements are having on their society. Starting later this year, celebrities will no longer be permitted to promote gambling services, as to avoid targeting minors. It is also expected that within the next few years the books will no longer be allowed as shirt sponsors for soccer teams–with more than half the clubs in England currently engaged in some sort of partnership. Another report indicated that the majority of British citizens are in favor of completely banning sports betting advertisements in all forms.
This industry has plenty of room for growth, and the benefits are plentiful for those involved. Responsible gamers can have fun and make money, states can reap the taxation benefits, and financial backers of these companies can see a strong return on their investments. However, changes must be made regarding the influx of advertisements unless they want the government to step in and begin heavily regulating the space.
Heavy restrictions would be suboptimal for both players and bookmakers, and would take much of the enjoyment away for all involved. If sports betting companies don’t become a bit more conservative with their aggressive marketing tactics, a rise in gambling addiction issues could force the decision out of their hands–and advertising dollars out of the pockets of those in the media industry.
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.