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Bomani Jones: Sportsbooks Fueling Sports Media Growth

“A lot of it is conferred upon by the media, and for the media to do that, the media itself has to be trustworthy.”

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A photo of Bomani Jones
Courtesy: HBO

Leading up to the NBA Draft, basketball insider Shams Charania became a story himself when he falsely reported that guard Sterling “Scoot” Henderson was gaining momentum to be selected second-overall by the Charlotte Hornets. When the tweet was released to the public domain, the betting lines at various sportsbooks changed, as forward Brandon Miller was originally the favorite at -650 odds.

One sportsbook saw the line move to -900 for Henderson to be selected with the second pick, and Miller moved to a +480, a considerable movement affecting final outcomes. When Miller was ultimately chosen with the pick, speculation commenced regarding Charania’s role in the ostensibly erroneous report.

Charania is a FanDuel partner and contributes to programming on FanDuel TV while writing for The Athletic and working with Stadium. He has been making connections in the basketball landscape for many years and made a name for himself through years of hard work and persistence. Today, the insider battle is often reduced to Charania against ESPN senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, former colleagues who worked together at The Vertical with Yahoo Sports. While most industry professionals do not believe there was any malpractice intended beyond Charania’s error, it does accentuate a discussion regarding conflicts of interest among reporters, some of whom contribute or work with sportsbooks.

“There was a time if you were a newsbreaker [where] some companies would require before you send that tweet out, you had to run that tweet by the newsdesk and then you could send it out because of the consequences,” Bomani Jones said on his podcast, The Right Time. “Basically, you’re putting out news – just because it’s not on their platform doesn’t mean their brand isn’t affected by this.”

Sports media has been rapidly consolidating its operations, especially since balance sheets were impacted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the insatiable demand for content continuous to sustain high levels, the entities producing that content – and the relations thereof – are rapidly becoming more intertwined.

“What we’ve seen in the last couple of years is an influx in the content game of sportsbook money,” Jones said. “What the sportsbooks are doing is putting their branding onto content that they then produce. The sportsbooks are hoping that this content then encourages people to gamble. They put their imprint on a lot of different types of content.”

Jones’ program has run advertisements for sportsbooks before, but does not have a presenting sponsor in the space. Conversely, other programs, including The Pat McAfee Show for some time, have operations like FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook prominently displayed and mentioned several times per day.

Additionally, sportsbooks are reducing the amount of outsourcing they engage in when it comes to content production, and there is inherent value in reliable, trustworthy information among consumers. The qualities of being informative and providing entertainment empower these entities to cut through the noise and stand out in the saturated media ecosystem.

“When we start talking about the consequences of gambling and we talk about what it does for players and how it affects the integrity of the game and everything else, the truth is a lot of the integrity of the game comes from outside of it,” Jones explained. “A lot of it is conferred upon by the media, and for the media to do that, the media itself has to be trustworthy.”

A conflict of interest, Jones surmised, has to do with the perception and how it affects the business more so than the bonafide conflict itself. The entire situation has the vacillating potential to help and/or hinder sports media; namely, the revenue stream as compared to maintaining credibility.

Gambling used to be an illicit practice outside of the state of Nevada, but now that it has become a regulatory power of the states after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (2018), participation is considerably more facile. Jones has begun to examine whether or not the industry was better off before the rapid growth of the sportsbooks and if the revenue stream will be viable down the road.

“Now that you make it a little easy and call it legal, now we start getting into ethical quandaries as opposed to, ‘Ay homie, you was just breaking the law,’” Jones said. “Once you get into ethical quandaries, we’re having all kinds of subtle and nuanced discussions, and I don’t know how long you’ve been paying attention to sports baby, but that ain’t what we do well.” 

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Dan Le Batard Breaks the News – NBC Has Contacted John Tesh About ‘Roundball Rock’

“We are actually talking right now about licensing it to them for the Olympics in Paris, which is always great.”

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Screengrab of John Tesh being interviewed by The Dan Le Batard Show
Screengrab: The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz

While everyone waits with bated breath for an announcement on the NBA media rights partnerships after next season, The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz dug in on what has become an important topic amongst basketball fans. If NBC does in fact get its partnership back with the NBA, fans want to know if they plan to re-license the ‘Roundball Rock’ theme song they used for The NBA on NBC from 1990-2002.

Dan Le Batard welcomed the score’s composer, former CBS and NBS sportscaster John Tesh to the show and he confirmed he has spoken to NBC recently.

“Has NBC reached out to you about reviving ‘Roundball Rock’?” asked Le Batard.

“They have actually,” said Tesh. “Nothing firm, but they said, ‘Hey, can you stay frosty on this? … we’d love to talk to you about it.’ We are actually talking right now about licensing it to them for the Olympics in Paris, which is always great.”

Even bigger news came next when Test told the show, “We are actually going in at the end of June, we’re heading to Nashville, we have a full orchestra on hold and we’re going to re-record it. The recording, I think, still sounds great, but I wanted to make a few changes, maybe open up the middle.”

The show played the famous Saturday Night Live skit where Jason Sudeikis and Tim Robinson played the song for show host Vince Vaughn along with Kenan Thompson and Kate McKinnon.

As the guest appearance wrapped, Le Batard said, “…NBC is going to fix all the badwill it creates by ending Charles Barkley’s studio show but replacing it with the glorious remake of [‘Roundball Rock’]”

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Foul Territory Adds Two New Shows to Its Network

“We’re extremely excited to join Foul Territory’s fast-growing network.”

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Foul Territory Logo
Courtesy: Make Plays Media

Make Plays Media has announced that it is adding two new shows within its expanding Foul Territory Network, providing fans with more localized coverage pertaining to their favorite Major League Baseball teams. In addition to Dodgers Territory, which launched earlier in the regular season, the platform will introduce North Side Territory and Hammer Territory. The Foul Territory program debuted last March and features its signature program hosted by Scott Braun with a roster of former players who convey their perspectives of the game. These personalities include A.J. Pierzynski, Erik Kratz, Todd Frazier and Adam Jones among others. Moreover, MLB insider Ken Rosenthal frequently contributes to the show, which also contains guest appearances from active major-league players.

The North Side Territory program will focus on the Chicago Cubs and will be hosted by Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma, both of whom cover the team for The Athletic. The debut episode of the program has been released, beginning its cycle of releasing shows three times per week during the season.

“We’re extremely excited to join Foul Territory’s fast-growing network,” Mooney said in a statement. “We’ve enjoyed appearing on the main show and thought this platform would be great for a Chicago-centric, Cubs podcast. We appreciate the way that the Foul Territory crew covers the game with authenticity and authority, giving fans the type of information and perspective they want. With their help, we plan to do the same thing with North Side Territory, and amplify our work at The Athletic.”

“I’m so excited to serve passionate Cubs fans and get back to podcasting with my partner on the Cubs beat at The Athletic,” Sharma said in a statement. “To do so with Foul Territory, an exciting venture that has quickly established itself as an authority in this medium, is truly a great opportunity. We’re hoping North Side Territory becomes fans’ go-to podcast for all things Cubs.”

Earlier in the month, Foul Territory released the Hammer Territory podcast centered on the latest news and analysis surrounding the Atlanta Braves. The program debuted at No. 3 on the Spotify U.S. charts for all sports podcasts and first on the Chartable U.S. rankings on Apple’s podcasting platform. Members of the show include former SB Nation Battery Power professionals Brad Rowland, Scott Coleman, Stephen Tolbert and Shawn Coleman. New episodes are released four times per week across all podcasting distribution platforms.

“We are so excited and thankful to connect with the folks from Foul Territory and be part of the network,” Rowland said in a statement. “It’s an amazing opportunity to connect with Braves fans from all over the country and the globe, and the support has been tremendous. We look forward to a fruitful partnership for a long time.”

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Report: MLB Commissioner, Some Owners Discussing Potential of Nationalizing TV Rights

“As the local media situation evolves, we will continue to evaluate the best model for us moving forward.”

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Major League Baseball
Courtesy: Major League Baseball

With uncertainty looming surrounding the future of Major League Baseball on regional sports networks, there is reportedly discussion taking place about nationalizing the television rights for the league. MLB Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. and some owners around the league are discussing the possibility of nationalizing the league’s television rights, according to a new report from Evan Drellich of The Athletic. The conversation is reportedly borne out of concerns towards cord cutting, the situation surrounding RSNs and the augmenting presence of live sports in an environment with more reliance on streaming.

Some of the owners and executives within baseball, largely in the smaller markets, believe that the best way to bolster media revenues over time is by centralizing deal-making. This could result in selling all of the regular-season broadcasts for the 30 teams across the league within a singular streaming package. Conversely, those who attain larger profits are believed to be against the plan and do not want to forsake such power.

“As the local media situation evolves, we will continue to evaluate the best model for us moving forward,” Manfred said in a statement to The Athletic. “Our course of action will be determined by the clubs, who are the ultimate decision makers under our constitution.”

Major League Baseball currently has national media deals with The Walt Disney Company, FOX Corporation and Warner Bros. Discovery; however, the teams themselves have typically controlled a large portion of the inventory. The league office controls the out-of-market rights for the teams, which gives fans the ability to watch games from around the league using MLB.tv. Major League Baseball, along with the NBA and NHL, argued in court last week about the viability of Diamond Sports Group as it is entrenched in Ch. 11 bankruptcy and at a carriage impasse with Comcast.

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