NBC Sports Washington has wasted no time in embracing sports betting following its legalization by the District of Columbia just before Christmas.
Sports Business Daily reports that this Friday’s televised NBA game between the Washington Wizards and the Milwaukee Bucks will receive an alternative airing on the regional sports network’s overflow channel, NBC Sports Plus, and will offer a glimpse of the future of sports broadcasting in the US, with a real-time data and statistics feed for in-play betting. Meanwhile, broadcast graphics will display odds, point spreads, and over/unders.
The broadcast will be the first of eight Wizards games presented in the new betting-friendly format and will also feature a contest that will invite viewers to predict aspects of the game via a series of questions, with a $500 prize going to the most successful speculator.
“We wanted to give fans a little taste of what they can expect and maybe explain to them what predictive gaming is,” Mark Friedman, director of creative services and advanced technology for NBC Sports Washington, told SBD. “We want to let them know that it’s not this scary thing with a stigma associated with it. It’s fun. You can put $5 on a game and add a little bit of interest.”
“It’s the 1.0 version of where we’re ultimately going,” added Zach Leonsis, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Wizards, told SportsBusiness Daily. “This will get more advanced. … The challenge for operators will be to make sure that the game play is supportive and not interruptive of the broadcast itself.”
“Version 2.0” may well involve broadcasts integrated into a future NBC sports betting platform. Last month the company registered a number of sports betting domain names, including NBCSportbook.com and NBCSportsSportsbook.com, as well as non-.com versions of NBCSportsBet, NBCSportsBets, NBCSportsbook and NBCSportsBetting, according to domainnamewire.com.
Monopolizing the Market
The move suggests the broadcaster is thinking about capitalizing on America’s newly liberalized sports betting laws as an operator — although it’s also possible that it’s a defensive move — domainnamewire notes that the reason it registered the non-.com versions of NBCSportsBet, NBCSportsBets and NBCSportsBetting is because cyber squatters had already grabbed the .coms.
DC Council voted to legalize sports betting on December 18. Regulations, as they stand, would grant a monopoly on online sports betting to the district’s Greek lottery provider, Intralot — although there is some scope for other operators to offer live betting at sports books situated in four sports venues: Audi Field, Nationals Park, and St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena, and the Capital One Arena, home to the Wizards.