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Outside The Lines Returns with In-Depth Examination of Sports Betting

Set against the backdrop of Super Bowl LVIII taking place in Las Vegas, the OTL series will explore the shifting landscape of sports wagering since the 2018 Supreme Court decision that paved the way for its widespread legalization.

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Now in its 34th year, Outside the Lines will debut a multi-part series examining the state of sports betting in the United States on Thursday, Feb. 1, in the 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET editions of SportsCenter on ESPN. The series will continue over four consecutive days and will then be available on the ESPN YouTube channel. Outside the Lines premiered on ESPN in 1990.

The multi- platform presentation will include content on ESPN.com and the ESPN YouTube channel where Outside the Lines will air a comprehensive special ALL IN – Sports Betting in the U.S., with extensive reporting, storytelling, interviews and perspective. Additional OTL on SC segments on sports betting will premiere on SportsCenter later in February.

Set against the backdrop of Super Bowl LVIII taking place in Las Vegas, the OTL series will explore the shifting landscape of sports wagering since the 2018 Supreme Court decision that paved the way for its widespread legalization. All facets of the industry will be examined, from the impact of the proliferation of sports wagering apps such as FanDuel, DraftKings and ESPN BET, to the current legislative initiatives to address problem gambling, which is growing with the easy access to sports gambling.

The Outside the Lines series and show are hosted by 14-time Emmy Award winner Jeremy Schaap with reporting by Schaap, John Barr and David Purdum. Content, which will also appear on the ESPN YouTube channel, will include:

Part 1: The State of Sports Betting in the U.S.

Airs Thursday, Feb. 1, in 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET editions of SportsCenter

  • As the Super Bowl comes to Las Vegas, what is the state of sports betting in the United States? How has the industry been transformed?
  • Bettors now carry sportsbooks in their pocket. How are people, especially younger ones, betting on the apps? 
  • How social media has impacted the growth of sports betting.
  • How the sports wagering industry continues to break down the barriers that once separated it from the sports establishment.

Part 2: Isaiah Rodgers Sr.

Airs Friday, Feb. 2, in 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET editions of SportsCenter

  • Exclusive interview with former Indianapolis Colts defensive back Isaiah Rodgers Sr. On June 29, 2023, the NFL suspended Rodgers indefinitely for violating the league’s gambling policy. Rodgers signed with the Eagles in August and will apply for reinstatement in the off-season.

Part 3: What Happens in Vegas…

Debuts Saturday, Feb. 3, in 9 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter

  • In 2003, the NFL blocked a “What Happens in Vegas” ad from airing during the Super Bowl. Now, 21 years later, the Super Bowl is in Las Vegas.
  • How did the sports industry go from strong aversion to gambling to where things stand today?
  • Since the landmark 2018 Supreme Court decision, legal sports betting in the U.S. has rapidly expanded into 38 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In that timeframe, Americans have legally wagered more than $300 billion on sports. 
  • Leagues (including the NFL) now go “all-in” allowing the marketing blitz during games, having sports books inside sport venues, and more.

Part 4: The Risks of Sports Gambling

Debuts Sunday, Feb. 4, in 9 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter

  • Viewers will meet a financial advisor from New Jersey who recently won nearly a half a million dollars from a $5 bet. The odds were one in 9.8 million.
  • It is estimated that 7 million American adults suffer from gambling addiction. There are currently no federal funds designated for problem gambling treatment or research.
  • Schaap interviews “Randy,” a 23-year-old man who sought treatment for his gambling addiction interviewed is his counselor, who has his own story of getting in too deep.
  • Examining the mind of a gambler – interview with Dr. Timonthy Fong, a UCLA Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, and co-director of the school’s Gambling Studies Program.

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The Sports Media Industry Remembers ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen

“Upon learning of Mortensen’s passing, members of the sports media industry flocked to social media to remember the ESPN legend.”

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ESPN has lost a legend. Longtime NFL insider Chris Mortensen passed away Sunday morning at the age of 72. Mortensen spent more than three decades working for the worldwide leader in sports. The news of his passing was first made public by ESPN PR.

Affectionally referred to by his colleagues as ‘Mort’, Chris Mortensen contributed to ESPN’s NFL programs, SportsCenter and was the network’s top news breaker for years. He earned the Pro Football Writers of America’s Dick McCann Award in 2016, receiving his honor at the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s enshrinement ceremony in August of that same year. It was also the same year when Mortensen broke the news of Peyton Manning retiring from the NFL.

Unfortunately, 2016 was also the year when it was revealed that Mortensen was diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer.

“Mort was widely respected as an industry pioneer and universally beloved as a supportive, hard-working teammate,” ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “He covered the NFL with extraordinary skill and passion, and was at the top of his field for decades. He will truly be missed by colleagues and fans, and our hearts and thoughts are with his loved ones.”

In 2023, Mortensen stepped away from his role at ESPN to focus on his health, family and faith. Prior to joining ESPN he wrote for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering the Falcons, Braves and the NFL He was also a columnist for The Sporting News and a consultant with CBS Sports’ ‘NFL Today’.

Chris Mortensen is survived by his wife, Micki, and son, Alex. Upon learning of his passing, members of the sports media industry flocked to social media to remember the ESPN legend.

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Struggles Continue for ‘Undisputed’ On FS1

According to Sports Media Watch, the Feb. 27 edition of the program had 50,000 viewers, the lowest in the show’s history.

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Skip Bayless
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It’s been raining and pouring for Undisputed over the last few months — and February saw an all-time low for the long-running Skip Bayless vehicle. According to Sports Media Watch, the Feb. 27 edition of the program had 50,000 viewers, the lowest in the show’s history.

Among the shows that defeated Undisputed head-to-head were a re-air of Get Up on ESPN2 and first-round Dubai Open tennis on The Tennis Channel, according to Sports Media Watch.

Undisputed has been in dire straits for months. According to figures provided by USTVDB, the show passed 200,000 viewers just twice since August — the Monday, Sep. 4 edition that featured new co-hosts Michael Irvin, Keyshawn Johnson, and Richard Sherman and took place after the University of Colorado’s win over TCU, and the Monday, Jan. 15 edition following another Dallas Cowboys playoff loss, this time a blowout at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. Its viewers were likely there to revel in Bayless’ misery as a vocal Cowboys fan. For perspective, First Take enjoyed its most-watched episode ever on Jan. 15 with an average of 1.5 million viewers.

The show routinely averaged near or over 200,000 viewers but saw a sudden decline once co-host Shannon Sharpe left the show following last year’s NBA Finals. Sharpe then joined First Take, which saw its most-watched year ever in 2023, averaging almost 500,000 viewers per episode, and hasn’t slowed down at all.

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Minnesota Twins Add Former Outfielder Denard Span to Rotating Group of Analysts

Span played 11 years in the major leagues, started his career with the Twins, and will now join the Bally Sports North rotation of analysts for Twins games.

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Former Twins outfield Denard Span making a catch
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Minnesota Twins broadcaster Bally Sports North is adding another baseball alumnus to its airwaves. According to The Athletic’s Twins beat reporter Aaron Gleeman, Denard Span will join the Bally Sports North rotation of analysts for the 2024 MLB season.

Span played 11 years in the major leagues and started his career with the Twins. After five years in Minnesota, he left for the Nationals, where he had perhaps his best statistical season in 2014. He went on to play for the Giants, Rays, and Mariners before retiring after the 2018 season.

Bally Sports North’s analysis desk includes Hall of Famer Justin Morneau, former World Series champ Roy Smalley, along with former Twins LaTroy Hawkins, Glen Perkins, and Trevor Plouffe. The analysts will call games alongside play-by-play man Cory Provus, who will move from radio to television full-time this season. The guys will be joined by Audra Martin and Katie Storm, who will provide on-field reporting.

According to KTTC, Provus is a three-time winner of Minnesota Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sports Media Association and before joining the Twins, spent three seasons in Milwaukee where he did play-by-play with Hall of Famer Bob Uecker.

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