×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Survey: Legalization of Sports Gambling Could Lead to Increased Sports Viewing

In states where gambling on sports is already legal, active gamblers report watching more live events

With sports dominating the most-watched telecasts on broadcast TV in 2018, its value to TV networks in guaranteeing a live audience is unparalleled. People are still watching sports despite the decline in overall live viewing.

But an exclusive study conducted for Variety by Prodege, a leading market research panel, found that being able to gamble on sports drives interest in watching more sport events in place of other types of TV content. This holds true for both those living in U.S. states where sports gambling is legal, and for those interested in gambling living in non-legal states.

The NFL, NBA, NCAA and MLB are the sports organizations best positioned to benefit from additional viewers resulting from gambling, with around 9 in 10 active or interested in gambling saying they’d be interested in betting on a football game, just over half saying basketball, and a little under half, baseball. The interest in gambling mirrors the overall popularity of these sports. Of note was that 1 in 5 said boxing was a sport they would be interested in having a flutter on, coming in ahead of soccer and golf.

The Prodege study also found that potential punters are most interested in placing bets on championship games or finals like the Super Bowl, NBA Finals or World Series, followed by the team(s) that they follow and then tournaments such as March Madness or the World Cup. A small minority of gamblers are interested in betting on teams or competitions that they don’t follow, with the proportion similar to the number of gamblers in the U.S. estimated to have an addiction or problem.

Interested basketball bettors are more likely to be interested in betting on a tournament versus football and baseball bettors, with 7 in 10 basketball fans selecting this, versus 6 in 10 for baseball and 5 in 10 for football. This suggests that the NCAA’s March Madness tournament may be a prime beneficiary of legalized sports gambling, with the networks carrying the tournament also benefiting from interested basketball bettors being more likely to pay more attention to commercials airing during a game they have a wager riding on (3 in 10 reporting doing so).

If the momentum of legalized gambling continues, with more and more states removing the prohibition on it, popular sports organizations look set to benefit from increasing rights fees, as TV networks compete for content that captures both a live audience and higher than normal attention paid to ads. Those same networks will also benefit from being able to charge a higher premium for larger, more engaged audiences, with advertisers acquiescing for being able to deliver to an engaged audience in an ever-fracturing live viewing world.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • ESPN - Always Late With Katie

    ESPN Inks Facebook Deal to Bring Exclusive Shows and Content to Watch Service

    Disney’s ESPN is looking to expand digital reach across Facebook, under a new deal to distribute exclusive digital shows and content on the social giant’s Facebook Watch video platform. At launch, ESPN’s Facebook Watch lineup includes additional segments from “Always Late With Katie Nolan,” the late-night sports/comedy show premiering this week on ESPN2; exclusive versions [...]

  • David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Carolyn

    Emmys 2019: 'Game of Thrones,' Jharrel Jerome Top Social-Media Buzz

    HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Jharrel Jerome, star of Netflix’s “When They See Us,” led the social conversation during Sunday’s 71st Primetime Emmy Awards on Facebook and Twitter. “GOT” picked up 12 Emmys in total for its final season, including outstanding drama series, while series star Peter Dinklage picked up his fourth trophy for supporting [...]

  • Oprah Winfrey

    Oprah Sets First Book-Club Pick for New Apple TV Plus Series

    Oprah Winfrey’s interviews with authors of her book club selections will be featured exclusively on Apple’s forthcoming Apple TV Plus service, and she’s announced the first book selection for the project: “The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Apple teamed with Winfrey for Apple TV Plus series “Oprah’s Book Club,” premiering Nov. 1 when the service [...]

  • NBC LX - Valari Staab

    NBCU Launches Digital News Outlet LX to Reach People Who Don't Watch Local TV (EXCLUSIVE)

    NBCUniversal’s local TV division is taking a new tack to reach younger audiences that don’t tune in to its traditional newscasts. On Monday, NBCU’s 42-station local TV group is launching LX — a digital news brand that will produce original content for online distribution and, in 2020, via a live-streaming internet network and multicast over-the-air [...]

  • 'OpenAP' CEO David Levy Sees New

    'OpenAP' CEO David Levy Charts New Course

    A consortium built by some of the nation’s biggest media outlets to win new kinds of advertising is quickly changing its course. Founded in 2017 by Viacom, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner, OpenAP was initially designed to help marketers figure out ways to buy advertising based on reaching segments of audience that aren’t defined [...]

  • Vimeo

    Vimeo Launches Video Production Jobs Marketplace

    Vimeo wants to make it easier for companies to find editors and other creatives for their video projects: The company launched a marketplace for video production jobs called “For Hire” Monday that aims to connect video professionals with potential clients. “Every business, brand and agency today faces hurdles in producing video at scale,” said Vimeo [...]

  • US President Donald J. Trump speaks

    Documentary Streamer iwonder Expands in Southeast Asia

    iwonder, a VoD platform dedicated to documentaries, has launched in eight countries in Southeast Asia. It is already available in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. The service provides access to more than 1,000 documentaries in more than 50 genres, including entertainment, sports, history, politics, science and technology, religion, music, movies, nature, biography and war. Leading [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content