With legalized sports gambling spreading, it’s worth wondering how that might change the way we watch games.
A few years ago it might have seemed inconceivable that we would be able to gamble on NFL games through the broadcast itself. But the landscape is changing, and the Washington Redskins are trying out something that will look a lot like live gaming on their first preseason broadcast.
Fans watching the Redskins-Cleveland Browns game on a second NBC Sports Washington channel will be able to guess things like which team will have the most rushing yards in a quarter or which player will record the most tackles, Sports Business Journal reported. It will be free to play, and there will be cash prizes of $1,000 per quarter.
That’s how live gaming on NFL games might look in the future, and it might not be much longer before we get there.
NBCSW to offer ‘Predict the Game’ contest
The NFL resisted legalized gambling for a long time, but it clearly will help the popularity of the game.
According to Sports Business Journal, there will be a traditional Redskins-Browns broadcast on NBCSW, with the “Predict the Game” telecast on NBCSW Plus. The latter telecast will be the same, just with the “Predict the Game” graphics.
The reason is obvious: The extra engagement will give viewers a reason to stick with the broadcast.
“We want casual fans to be more involved in the broadcast,” NBCSW Senior VP & GM Damon Phillips told the Sports Business Journal. “When they are more involved, they stay longer.”
That is particularly true for a preseason game, in which starters barely play. But it can also apply to all games. Give viewers more stake in the game, the more they’ll want to watch. And it’s not hard to envision the next step, with live point spreads and prop bets on the screen and fans able to bet on them through an app.
A look at the future?
NBCSW has done a “Predict the Game” element to some NBA telecasts with the Washington Wizards. SBJ said the network approached the Redskins with a similar idea, and the NFL gave its blessing.
The NFL will presumably incorporate gambling ideas into its game. The league was anti-gambling for decades, but now that states can decide whether to allow legal sports gambling it’s impossible to ignore. The NFL also will presumably understand that many of its fans enjoy gambling, and embracing that will help grow the game.
What NBCSW is doing, on the surface, is just a free contest with cash prizes for predicting certain aspects of a preseason game. But it might be a glimpse into the future.
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