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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

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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Sports TV News

F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Sports TV News

Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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