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810 The Spread Bets On California’s Gambling Future

At face value, it makes little sense given the public sentiment towards both propositions on the ballot having trended towards rejection over the past two months.

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Listeners to KGO 810 AM in San Francisco were tuned into The Mark Thompson Show last Thursday morning when it was abruptly removed from the air. After 80 years of having a news talk format, the 50,000 watt station began playing songs pertaining to money and gambling. People rightly deduced that the format would be changing to feature sports betting content, and that was confirmed by Monday morning’s announcement of the station’s rebranding to 810 The Spread.

The press release from Cumulus laid out the new format for the station, which joins 680 KNBR and 1050 KTCT in their San Francisco sports portfolio. The schedule will feature CBS Sports Radio programming overnight and will air The Jim Rome Show in the mornings. But more importantly, it will feature quite a bit of sports gambling content from Audacy.

Given the growing behemoth that is sports betting in this country, the move shouldn’t be surprising. Online sports betting is a multi-billion dollar industry in this country, and as we’ve discussed many times in this column it’s not going anywhere but up. Bringing that content to one of the largest markets in the country makes total sense.

That is, it makes total sense until you remember the small matter of online sports betting not being legal in the state of California.

Despite millions of dollars in fundraising and a heavily targeted ad campaign, it’s looking quite unlikely that the voters of the Golden State will be approving either Prop 26 or Prop 27 when they head to the polls in just four weeks.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported multiple books including DraftKings and FanDuel pulled more than $11 million in advertisement buys scheduled to air between now and Election Day. Furthermore, an update posted by California policy and politics blog CalMatters stated last Wednesday that “both sports betting ballot measures are underwater” in a battle that has seen nearly $450 million spent in advertising and campaigning.

All of this makes the decision by Cumulus quite intriguing. At face value, it makes little sense given the public sentiment towards both propositions on the ballot having trended towards rejection over the past two months. Given that fact, one might wonder why they would switch the format — especially with the reactions the news brought from upset fans of the independent talk shows on the station being canceled.

But I see multiple factors as to why it’s a calculated risk, and one that could pay off. First, take into consideration the reach that the station has. Many areas with legalized online sports betting , like Colorado and Oregon are able to pick up the signal at night. While both states broadcast content from the BetQL network, there are areas that KGO can reach that those affiliates cannot.

That’s one of the biggest draws for Nick Kostos, the host of You Better You Bet which now airs weekdays from 12-4pm on KGO. “It’s really awesome knowing we’re adding an amazing new market like San Francisco, which speaks to the continued growth of the BetQL Network,” Kostos said when reached for comment on the announcement. “I can’t wait for everyone in the Bay Area to hear YBYB’s brand of wagertainment, where Ken and I inform you on sports betting and entertain you while doing it.”

Secondly, there’s never anything wrong with trying to sway people to come to your side. While Prop 26 and 27 are going to fail, they aren’t necessarily failing because there’s not an appetite for sports betting. The props just simply fail to address real concerns of their opponents, such as the low taxation rate on revenues and the revenue-share provided to tribes in the state. Flooding the airwaves with sports betting programming will build a loyal audience of those who currently bet in other ways–such as off-shore books or local bookies–and may help sway some voters ahead of what is sure to be the next ballot proposition in 2023 or 2024.

The format change for KGO was also likely a smart financial choice. The current advertisement-driven model of talk radio is becoming more difficult to maintain, especially as we prepare to enter another recession where budgets will get even tighter. Now the station sets itself up to draw even more advertising revenue when the next legalization attempt takes place.

We will find out for certain in four weeks what the people of California think of Props 26 and 27, but it will take much longer to find out how Cumulus’ decision pays off. There’s a possibility that listenership will drop for KGO without sports betting being available in the state. But it’s almost a certainty that sports betting will become legalized in the state at some point, once the powers that be figure out a structure that appeases all parties involved including the public. When that happens, Cumulus will have put themselves in a terrific position as early entrants into the area by betting on themselves.

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Does The Return of Bob Iger Mean to ESPN?

Demetri Ravanos

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Demetri Ravanos has questions about Disney going back to the future with Bob Iger. This entire episode of Media Noise is all about what the change at the top of the Walt Disney Company indicates about the future of ESPN.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

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Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Is Realistic For FOX at the World Cup?

Demetri Ravanos

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On this special holiday edition of Media Noise, Demetri Ravanos dives into the controversy and criticism surrounding FOX’s coverage of the World Cup in Qatar.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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