The Sports Gambling Gold Rush Is Upon Us and Everyone Is Scrambling to Capitalize


It was always a matter of when and not if sports gambling content would mushroom in the event that legalization ever occurred. While there still aren’t all that many states that have it ready yet — so far it’s only been fully legalized in New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, and Mississippi in addition to Nevada which obviously already had it — the programming is already raring up.

The following shows have already been announced:

  • The Action Network, which was launched by former ESPN executive Chad Millman and The Chernin Group, has a show called I’ll Take That Bet, airing several afternoons per week on ESPN+. Personalities on that show include Blackjack Fletcher and former NFL player Geoff Schwartz. They also have a ton of written and podcast content digitally.
  • FS1 is launching a show next week called Lock it In, which will air weekdays at 4:30pm ET with Rachel Bonnetta, Clay Travis, Cousin Sal, and Todd Fuhrman.
  • TVG, a national horseracing network that recently merged with FanDuel, just announced two new gambling shows for Sunday mornings: More Ways to Win with Lisa Kerney, Jason McIntyre (my boss), Dani Klupenger, Dave Weaver, and Brandon Funston; and The Barstool Sports Advisors with Dave Portnoy, Big Cat, PFT Commenter, and Stu Feiner.
  • CBS Sports HQ, CBS’s OTT streaming service, announced they’ll air Sportsline Edge with Nick Kostos, Todd Fuhrman, Hank Goldberg, Kenny White, Micah Roberts and Kelly Stewart. It’ll air on Monday and Thursday nights and weekends at launch and eventually every day.
  • In May, John Ourand reported that NBCSN was also looking into launching a sports gambling show. There have also been rumors that DraftKings is developing one as well.
  • Brent Musburger’s VSiN network has been up and humming on SiriusXM, and it would hardly be surprising to see it pop up on TV and/or a streaming platform soon.

It’s unclear if or when there will be a robust audience for all of this programming — over time, fans will presumably gravitate towards the best personalities and/or information — but it makes sense to get the infrastructure in place as more and more states legalize sports gambling. Frankly, viewership may not even be the primary goal of some or all of these platforms. As Jamie Horowitz, Colin Cowherd, and probably lots of others have said, there are three distinct ways that content can be successful: revenue, ratings, and relevance. If you get two of those you have a home run; landing all three at a level of, say, PTI, is a grand slam.

The revenue is the R to look at with the sports gambling content. As it becomes more and more prevalent — especially from a mobile perspective — the purveyors are going to be looking for places to put their advertising money, and these platforms will be perfectly suited for targeting.

Beyond that, as The Action Network’s CEO Noah Szubski pointed out in Slate’s piece on sports gambling and the media, it’s not just advertising but affiliate marketing that is where the real money will be. This is a model that is prevalent in the United Kingdom, where content creators refer their readers/viewers to sportsbooks and get a cut of their action.

“If I have 8 million qualified users spread around the country and each one can legally bet through a book and there’s an affiliate fee and a percentage of lifetime money, it’s like happy f—— birthday,” Szubski told Slate. “That’s the billion-dollar business.”

This will be fascinating to watch all shake out. Early movers will have a big advantage, new players will emerge, and eventually there will be a lot of consolidation. Who will be the big winners in the end?