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Ted Leonsis: Betting Makes ‘Sports Programming Even More Valuable’

“It used to be, there would be a blowout and everyone would tune out. Now you’re watching until the end of the game to see what your bet will be.”

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Sports betting has exploded in the United States since the Supreme Court ruled against a law that banned commercial sports gambling throughout the country. Legalized sports betting has been adopted in one form or another by more than 30 states, creating a market that has produced over $52 billion in revenue.

On the latest Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, reporter Jim Frankel looked at the sports betting phenomenon, reminding viewers that professional sports once distanced itself from gambling. Two of baseball’s biggest scandals, notably the 1919 Chicago White Sox deliberately losing the World Series and Pete Rose being banned from the sport, involved betting.

Yet betting has now become so incorporated with sports that ads for sportsbooks and betting platforms flood advertising during sporting events and at venues. Studio shows discuss betting, often in sponsored segments, during pregame, halftime, and postgame coverage.

Frankel spoke with one professional sports team owner who’s embraced betting fully. Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards, Capitals, and Mystics, has opened a Caesars Sportsbook in Capital One Arena. Fans attending games can place bets right there in the building.

Here’s a clip from Frankel’s feature, titled “Legalized Sports Gambling”:

“There was a lot of angst about sports betting. What was the audience going to be doing?” Leonsis told Frankel. “This is the fastest-growing new business in Washington, D.C. and it’s unfolded the way we’re expecting.”

Frankel also includes interviews with fans placing multiple bets and spending hundreds of dollars (if not more), who enjoy the thrill of having an investment in several events. But he also follows a fan whose life was ruined by his betting addiction.

However, Leonsis is among those looking at the bigger picture, who see gambling making sports even more lucrative and more important to fans.

“It’ll make sports programming even more valuable because you’re much more engaged,” said Leonsis. “It used to be, there would be a blowout and everyone would tune out. Now you’re watching until the end of the game to see what your bet will be.”

The latest episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel debuted Jan. 25 and is available across HBO networks. The show can also be seen on-demand and streamed HBO Max.

Sports TV News

Stugotz: ‘Sean McDonough Hates The Aaron Judge Cut-Ins’

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

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College football fans are not being shy with how they feel about Aaron Judge. Whether it is private conversations or social media posts, people are making their disdain for the cut-ins to college football games on ESPN networks when the Yankee slugger comes to bat known. On Monday morning, Stugotz added that it isn’t just fans that are unhappy.

The Dan Le Batard Show discussed the second straight week of cut-ins on Monday morning. Stugotz pointed out that one of ESPN’s primary college football voices sounds just as annoyed as fans are.

“Sean McDonough hates the toss to Aaron Judge,” he said. Hates it!”

Last week, ESPN and ABC cut into games when Judge was sitting on 60 home runs. This week, he was sitting on 61. A 62nd home run would be the most in American League history.

Stugotz added that has to be part of McDonough’s frustration.

“In his defense, what are we cutting in for? I have no idea if [Aaron Judge] is breaking a record, what record he’s breaking, if he’s clean. I have no idea!”

Producer Mike Ryan Ruiz said the fact that Judge is yet to deliver is making the cut-ins more frustrating for fans.

“I think what hurts the whole thing is that Aaron Judge has been terrible during these cut-ins,” Ruiz said. “He’s been God awful during these cut-ins. I haven’t seen a single home runs during one of these cut-ins. There was genuine fury at a watch party I was at. Fury! At Aaron Judge.”

A popular criticism of ESPN has been that this kind of attention would not be paid to Aaron Judge if he was chasing a mark that wasn’t the home run record if he played anywhere other than New York. According to Ryan, the mistake is bigger than that. Why would regular season baseball ever interrupt college football?

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

There are four games left in Major League Baseball’s regular season. You can bet college football fans will make plenty of signs for College GameDay if Judge cannot hit number 62 before the playoffs start.

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Sports TV News

Terry Bradshaw Is Cancer Free

Bradshaw’s candor comes after struggling through a sentence during the September 25th edition of the show, in which Howie Long helped finish his sentence.

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During FOX NFL Sunday, Terry Bradshaw revealed he was diagnosed with two different forms of cancer in the last year.

However, after surgeries and treatments, Bradshaw said he is now cancer free.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer said he was diagnosed with bladder cancer in November of last year and surgery and treatments removed the cancer. Then, in March of this year, a tumor was found on the left-side of his neck. Bradshaw called it a “Merkel cell tumor”, which he had removed.

Bradshaw’s candor comes after struggling through a sentence during the September 25th edition of the show, in which Howie Long helped finish his sentence.

The 74-year-old has worked on FOX NFL Sunday since its inception in 1994. He will be inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame later this year.

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Sports TV News

Scott Van Pelt’s ‘Bad Beats’ Becoming 30-Minute Monthly Show

Van Pelt, alongside “Stanford Steve” Coughlin, recaps the toughest losses suffered by sports gamblers with unconventional final moments and unexpected outcomes as it pertains to the over/under or point spread.

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The popular “Bad Beats” segment from SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt is being turned into a monthly half-hour show on ESPN.

Van Pelt, alongside “Stanford Steve” Coughlin, recaps the toughest losses suffered by sports gamblers with unconventional final moments and unexpected outcomes as it pertains to the over/under or point spread, otherwise known as a “bad beat”. Generally, the segment lasts around 5-10 minutes. ESPN will repurpose the content from the show to package it into a half-hour edition.

The new monthly show debuted yesterday at 5:30 PM ET on ESPN.

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