Another week, another huge sports betting partnership
What was the uncrossable line between discussing sports wagering within any media source and the public became that much more invisible this week when FanDuel announced they have become the "official partner" of the Associated Press (AP) for an undisclosed amount. Whenever that term "undisclosed amount" is mentioned in any press release it is assumed to be a great deal of money.
Whatever unknown figure that might be, it continues to stretch the mind of just how far things continue to rapidly move toward media companies embracing every opportunity the sportsbook conglomerates including FanDuel, Draft Kings, BetMGM and others will enthusiastically throw their way. The more surprising question involves how much space and time it will encompass within real-time game action.
By the Numbers
The opportunity to grow revenue for broadcasting dramatically changed shortly after PASPA (the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act) was repealed by the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018. One significant measuring stick is the Nielsen advertising online ad sales, which have soared and continue to set records. In Q1 2019, they accomplished only $10.7 million, rising to an astronomical $154 million in Q1 2021. Of that total, local television received 80% of ad dollars. The remaining balance was shared between network TV, national online sites, local radio, and outdoor advertising.
All the networks have taken aim, including NBC, CBS and especially ESPN. Taking specific notice of the growing power and potential of sports betting, Scott Clark, ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer for Sports Betting & Fantasy Sports offered these comments:
“When it comes to the betting audience, we know that’s growing as legalization of sports betting expands across the country. We have been aggressive in looking to attract that audience in the last couple years and will continue to look to expand what we do across TV and other platforms.”
Notes on the AP / FanDuel Deal
Within the terms of the partnership agreement, FanDuel will pay the Associated Press (AP) to cite its current odds within sports stories, game previews and daily sports fixtures. Along with that, the AP will have editorial control of all content. Organized as a non-profit cooperative, AP provides news and graphics by wire to over 1,700 member newspapers and 5,500-member television and radio stations.
The press release described the relationship as both valuable and long-term. Beginning in April, every AP story that mentioned a wagering favorite, betting lines or any gambling information now will cite FanDuel's odds and links to FanDuel Sportsbook. Along with that, FanDuel widgets will appear on the sports pages of APNews.com and all FanDuel content will be distributed across the AP wire. In essence, the line(s) of all games will be known as "the official FanDuel line".
It was also explained this was not a new frontier for the Associated Press, first started in 1846. For six previous years the AP was using odds and lines from Pregame.com. All accrued revenue from the new partnership will go into the AP Sports budget.
Explaining the rationale for the deal the press release said:
"We have heard from dozens of customers over the last six months asking for more sports gambling stories on the wire and gambling info in our fixtures. We know that a huge increase in interest in sports over the past two years has been due to the expansion of legal sports gambling, which will soon be available in more than half of the country. We’ll look for more smart ways to serve that readership."
Who Got the Better Deal?
The debate on who got the better deal in this new partnership or made out better is purely subjective. Of course, we may never never know with the missing link of "undisclosed amount" toward what FanDuel paid.
Assuming it is anywhere within reason, there is no doubt this was a very clever and ambitious move at certainly the right time. With key U.S. states coming onboard soon, including Connecticut, Arizona, Maryland, and likely Florida, not to mention New York beginning online sports wagering, huge opportunity is awaiting. Also, football season is around the corner in a few months with specific programming dedicated to sports betting promised by ESPN and other networks.
We already have seen the marriage building, with ESPN getting more aggressive with shows like The Daily Wager, which feature A-Z coverage of everything a bettor would desire, including discussion of odds, picks, and debates from very angle of which side to choose. It is not a stretch of imagination to foresee an entire cable channel dedicated to sports wagering evolve in the near future.
Remember, this is NOT an affiliate deal, where there is a link toward direct sign-ups occurring. However, reaching millions of people constantly with the message of "the FanDuel line" should work like a mantra to motivate the novice bettor to the seasoned gambler to where to look first.
Keeping Score on Exclusive Deals
Don't at all expect this will be the last announcement of this type. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to learn of another "exclusive deal" between a sports wagering service and a major media company by next week.
In the Coke-Pepsi like competition between FanDuel and DraftKings, FanDuel had a previous relationship with Fox morning talk-show host Clay Travis to be exclusive partner for his show. Recently, DraftKings paid Dan Lebatard $50 million in a three-year deal for rights to license a podcast in his new media company.
For every broadcast, the formula will be similar. Integrate the odds and lines everywhere, as many times as contractually possible, within each sports show for ONE specific official sponsor. And hopefully, keep focus on the sports themselves, the past games played and the ones upcoming.
Therefore, there is no true way to judge the perfect outcome of this latest partnership. But . . . if the casual guy on the street says to his friend, "I heard the FanDuel line for Sunday is Cowboys -4”, we'll pretty much know who the big winner was.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.