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ESPN+ and the Action Network Launch Betting Show

Brandon Contes

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Earlier this week, John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal reported regional sports networks would look to launch sports betting related shows before they become common on a national level. Because sports gambling will be legalized individually by each state, it’s logical to expect local networks to emphasize sports betting as it becomes legal within their region.

With New Jersey expected to legalize sports betting soon, SportsNet New York, which serves most of New Jersey, will be eyeing the addition of betting coverage to their lineup.

“Our hope and expectation is that this is an opportunity for us in the second half of 2018,” SNY president Steve Raab told Ourand. “There are some states and some networks where my guess is that it could be a year or two — or never — before there’s an opportunity.”

New Jersey was hoping to be open for sports betters by Memorial Day Weekend, but fell short of that goal. According to USA Today, Delaware will now be the first new state to offer sports betting, opening for business on Tuesday June 5th.

Sports gambling programs reaching the national stage on ESPN or FS1 will depend on how quickly states follow suit to join Delaware in legalizing the practice. ESPN won’t put resources towards a wagering show if Delaware is the only state where sports betting is legal, however, once the number of states with legal sports gambling reaches 25 or 30, national networks will need to adjust their programming accordingly.

While ESPN and FS1 might not be ready to put a gambling show on their national network, Ourand reported the new subscription-streaming platform, ESPN+ has launched a betting show in conjunction with The Action Network.

I’ll Take That Bet is the first sports wagering related content on the ESPN+ platform, hosted by The Action Network Head of Media, Chad Millman along with retired NFL player Geoff Schwartz, NBA reporter Matt Moore and former MLB All-Star Paul Lo Duca. Two of their betting experts will be featured in each 15-minute show, with all of them alternating to select 10 bets off a betting board. Shows will be released multiple times per week in the 5:00 – 6:00 pm ET hour.

ESPN and The Action Network were reportedly working on a gambling show for ESPN+ prior to the Supreme Court decision on May 14th allowing states to legalize sports betting. It’s probable they were planning the show prior to the decision, but ESPN and The Action Network knew the Supreme Court decision was coming soon. Had the Supreme Court surprisingly ruled in the other direction, disallowing states to legalize sports wagering, it’s unlikely they would have rolled betting related content on ESPN+.

“Our ambition was to be in this space with our premium product at the outset,” said ESPN Senior VP/Original Content, Newsgathering & Digital Media Rob King.

“We know this content has its audience,” King told SBJ’s Ourand. “We’re putting together a strong portfolio of content and distribution for ESPN+. This will add value overall.”

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

Pedro Martinez: ‘Never Imagined’ TV Career

“And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.”

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As the Major League Baseball season comes to a close and preparations for the playoffs begin, MLB Network and TNT analyst Pedro Martinez joined The Press Box podcast to discuss his time as a television analyst.

When asked what he liked about working in television, Martinez didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“I think it’s a platform and the opportunity I have to bring to the audience what I know, what I think, what I understand and broadcasting gives me the opportunity to continue to have that communication with the people, the young athletes and fans. At the same time, I’m able to continue to learn and transmit some of the things that I would love to show everybody by playing but my body doesn’t allow me, but my mind does.

“This is a great way to bring the right information to the people, but I take advantage of the platform to communicate with my fanbase, the player’s fanbase, and the voice behind the players and the situations that come up, I can actually teach the audience some of the things that I understand from my point of view.”

A media career was never in the cards for Martinez. At least that’s what he thought during his playing career.

“I swear to god, it’s the only thing I never imagined. I never thought I would like being in front of a camera,” Martinez said. “And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.

“You learn so much just by having access to information, having access to so many other different things. A lot of people would be surprised how much you can dig into and I think for everybody else, if they knew the kind of information we have access to, they’d be intrigued to come do what we do.”

He then said one of the things he would have never picked up on was how many pitchers tip their pitches, but due to all of the information, video, and relationships broadcasters have make that information readily available. He added his work in television has enabled more relationships with baseball players from his home country, the Dominican Republic.

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Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith and Malika Andrews Get Heated Over Ime Udoka Coverage

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

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Stephen A. Smith, Malika Andrews

On Friday’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith continued his stance regarding the public leaking of information surrounding Celtics’ Head Coach Ime Udoka relationship with a team staffer. He also went further by sharing his dismay that Udoka was seemingly the only person punished for the violation of company policy.

“Only he is in violation of the company policy?” Smith asked. “The woman who elected to have a consensual relationship with him is not in violation?” 

Before the end of the show, ESPN NBA Today host Malika Andrews called in the program and wanted to address Smith’s comments.

“Stephen A., with all do respect, this is not about pointing the finger. Stop,” Andrews said. “The fact that we are sitting here debating whether somebody else should have been suspended or not, we are not here, Stephen A., to further blame women.”

Smith would replay saying that his intention was not blame anyone outside of the Celtics coach.

“First of all, let me be very clear, I don’t appreciate where you’re going with that, I’m not blaming anybody but Ime Udoka,” Smith stated. “The fact of the matter is, he deserves to be fired if they were going to fire him. If you’re not going to fire him, then don’t fire him. My issue is all of this being publicized.”

Andrews tried to jump back in for further commentary but Smith stopped that and noted he didn’t appreciate being interrupted on “my show”.

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

Andrews did thank Smith for clarifying his stance at the end of the segment. ESPN has removed access to the video from its YouTube channel by making it private.

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Sports TV News

Rich Eisen on Tom Brady Joining FOX: ‘I Gotta See It to Believe It’

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow.”

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Is 2023 the year we see Tom Brady in the broadcast booth for FOX? Rich Eisen isn’t so sure.

“I still gotta see it to believe it, I’ll be honest with you, man. I know it’s a great chunk of change and it’s a lot of money. I don’t know,” the NFL Network icon said on the most recent edition of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast.

Tom Brady has taken his foot off the gas in 2022 in a more public way than fans are used to. He voluntarily missed eleven days of training camp and has announced that he will not be available to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesdays during the season.

Eisen says if Brady is looking for a less demanding career, broadcasting isn’t the best option.

“It is a lot of work. And I’m not saying Brady’s not up for it, but if he’s been grinding for 23, 24 years, it’s still a grind in its own way.”

FOX signed Brady to a ten-year deal reportedly worth $375 million to start after he retires. He will be in the network’s top broadcast booth and also serve as an ambassador for the network’s coverage of the NFL.

Eisen says there is a much better model for Brady’s media career in his old rival Peyton Manning.

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow,” Eisen said. “Peyton Manning could be making that much money in the booth himself, right? Instead, he’s got his own production company and he’s doing the games, but not all of them, only 10 of them. And he’s doing them from his basement and he’s got the rights to the games!”

He added that Tom Brady “write his own ticket like that” if he chose to do something similar to what Manning has done with Omaha Productions.

Brady has not had much to say about his deal with FOX since the news became public. In June, he told Dan Patrick that he knows his first season in the booth will come with a lot of growing pains.

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