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Although professional sports franchise owners like Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have recently declared that sports betting will keep their television contracts inflated, media executives were stressing caution at a summit last week in New York City.
Citing “some confusion” at how sports betting will shape the upcoming media landscape, executives like Jeff Gerttula with CBS Sports Digital stressed patience for future television deals.
“This is going to be a long game, and every move that we make now — we just have to be careful that we don’t put ourselves in a spot that we regret in a few years,” Gerttula said at the Sports Betting USA & Investors Summit in New York.
“So I think everyone is biding their time, making sure that they are making the right decision based on all the information they have.”
With the majority of states still viewing sports betting as illegal, sports television is slowly dipping their toes into the wagering information waters, trying not to overextend their programming with too much betting odds and predictions.
“The sportsbooks that we are working with and leagues are all pretty cognizant of not oversaturating the airwaves and turning people against sports betting. Everybody is being pretty cautious,” said Jim Mattson, vice president at Fox Home Team Sports.
Panelists agreed that media networks will have to craft their own shows and submit sections of their schedule to betting programming before they can feed it to the masses.
Media executives on the summit’s panels were well aware that not all sports fans want to bet and to alienate them isn’t wise for long-term growth. But they also conceded that sports bettors are high-volume consumers of sports information.
Brian Musburger, CEO of the Las Vegas-based VSiN sports-betting network, believes the answer is alternative broadcast feeds that allow novice bettors the opportunity to learn more about betting on sporting events.
Offering a “second screen” to customers would allow betting enthusiasts to focus solely on wagering information and not more in-depth insight about the actual game itself, according to Musburger.
“Everybody in this space is going to be spending a lot of resources figuring out how to create that perfect alternative broadcaster,” he said.
One approach that media companies are pursuing is the partnership with gaming companies for inside information on odds, information, and backdrops for studio shows.
“We are seeing an increased level of partnerships, and we are seeing a tremendous amount of integration across the industry,” Mattson said.
Something that would boost interest in betting is the ability to stream games from the big four sports and bet in real-time. But execs like Mattson feels that won’t become a reality for several years.
“We are probably a little while away from being able to do that with the larger sports like MLB or NFL,” he said.
As more states legalize, panelists agreed that the sportsbooks would need to be more open with how much money is coming in to make the betting industry its own entertainment outlet.
“People want to hear about the big bets coming in. The more open (books) can be with this data, the better it is for everyone,” Musburger said.
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