As more states step into the sports gambling arena, I have heard questions from many in the sports radio business wondering just how safe and reliable books like DraftKings and FanDuel are for their listeners. They also have hesitations about promoting a service that they either don’t fully partake in themselves, or that they are not wholly familiar with, as their listeners associate their name with the product.
In the past week alone, I have taken questions from multiple individuals from states where sports gambling is either about to become legal, or has just opened up for business. One of the questions I was asked–and couldn’t fully answer–was my thoughts on two of the major sports books that were offering advertising money. It made me realize that, while there are plenty of reviews out there for bettors, many reviews are done by people who got free credit on a site, or were being paid to promote it.
Therefore, over the next few months I will be doing a series of sports book reviews, with my own funding and no ties whatsoever to any of the companies, to help assist those in the radio business with both the pros and cons for many of these sites. Our first review is for FanDuel, whose product provided many pros and a fair amount of cons–many of which, unfortunately for them, are out of their control.
On Friday, I made my first deposit with FanDuel. I wanted to get some wagers placed for the Champions League Final on Saturday afternoon. The process was fairly straightforward. I had to provide my physical location and prove that I lived in Indiana. That said, I immediately ran into a hiccup when my financial institution declined the transaction due to policies against funding gambling accounts. This is one of the main issues many new bettors run into, which thankfully can be avoided by using a service such as PayPal. I was offered a $50 sign-up bonus, which despite being told could take up to 72 hours to appear was in my account in less than ten minutes!
I set up the entire account on my main PC without any other issues, which is why I was confused when I logged in after my deposit and was told FanDuel could not verify my location. The geolocation service used by the company detects your location and checks for things such as VPN, a virtual private network, (which I learned, unfortunately for me, you cannot even have installed, running or not) or remote access due to state legislation.
No worries, I thought, as I reached out to customer service. After a few clicks, I was into their chat module, which had me speaking to a real person within five minutes. Although he was unable to help me with the issue, as again the third-party company controls the geolocation services, he was very friendly and understood my concerns. I would later discover that the geolocation issue was due to my hard-wired PC not having wifi, as nearby wifi signals are what the service uses to determine your actual location, thus avoiding VPN spoofing or remote-access software. While this isn’t FanDuel’s fault, it is something they (and other books) may want to advise customers to avoid confusion.
I downloaded the FanDuel app to my phone, and I must say that after years of using Bovada’s web-based site for my betting activities, this was a wonderful experience in comparison. The app is easy to use, it’s laid out very well, and features extremely user-friendly navigation. The “bets” tab is very helpful for viewing what open wagers you currently have, but I was more impressed that, upon opening a contest I had already bet on, it laid the active wagers out immediately for me. This prevented me on more than one occasion from placing a duplicate bet.
I did run into a few issues though while using the service. My biggest complaint was the lack of a “search” feature. I love to gamble on soccer more than any other sport, and sometimes finding a specific match is a bit difficult. Other sites, such as DraftKings, allow you to search for specific teams or even games, but that is not something FanDuel offers at this time. This is a real inconvenience when attempting to get a wager in at the last minute. I was also a bit disappointed at the lack of wagering options that are prevalent on other services, such as team totals in soccer and live-wagering on events such as the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday.
Another issue outside of their control is how quickly you get timed out. This can become a real problem on the mobile app, which requires you to fully type in your password after not using the service for about five minutes. Unlike the website, where you can use your browser to auto-fill the password and quickly log back in, it’s another small nuisance that can become problematic when trying to get a wager in quickly. This is another item that is outside of FanDuel’s control, as this is required by the geolocation provider to ensure the service refreshes and picks up your location accurately.
That said, these were small, mostly first-world problems that some may not bother the more casual gambler. I was very impressed with the security options that FanDuel offers. First, they have a notification setting (which you can disable, thankfully) that sends you an email every time you log in. To further protect your account, two-step authentication is available, and is promoted during the sign-up process. For someone like myself who wants quick access to lines, I declined to incorporate the added measure, but it’s reassuring that they not only offer it, but actively alert new customers to its availability.
I was stunned as well as how quickly they settled winning wagers. Having used Bovada for years, where wagers could sometimes go hours without winnings being returned to my account, I was pleasantly surprised with how wagers were settled within seconds of being decided. FanDuel also has a substantially strong “same game parlay” feature, perhaps the best of any book in the United States at this time, and their odds were far and above what I was able to price out at books such as DraftKings and Bovada for the same plays.
Lastly, FanDuel has numerous bonus offers and promotions running on a daily basis. Whether it’s free plays, boosted odds–such as moving the line for Liverpool to lift the trophy from -175 to even money (+100) as Pat McAfee’s promoted play–or featured “same game parlays” for big events, there are plenty of ways to earn free wagers on the site. In fact, I was offered a risk-free play up to $1,000 for my very first wager, which I used on a +1000 parlay that unfortunately did not hit, and within minutes the money was returned to my account for use.
It’s hard for me to advise anybody to promote a product they haven’t tried themselves, but if anybody asked me my thoughts on taking a sponsorship deal with FanDuel, I would advise them to jump on it. Their product is substantially safer and more reliable than an off-shore service or a local bookie, it’s well-secured and regulated, and it offers strong customer service with solid bonuses. I deposited money to the site without knowing if I would stay on board after reviewing, but after enjoying FanDuel to wager on soccer and baseball all weekend, I have no plans to withdraw my money anytime soon.
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.