Sports betting is a vital and growing piece of US sports media.
Broadcasters and publishers started taking ad dollars from gambling operators and dabbling in betting content a few years ago, as the US regulatory tide turned in favor of the industry that had long been viewed as a vice.
The ties between media outlets and gambling operators have deepened since.
DraftKings in 2021 bought sports-gambling network VSIN, appointed its first chief media officer, and continued working with the sector to help with customer acquisition and retention.
Storied publishers like Sports Illustrated also licensed their brands to sportsbooks.
And sites like The Action Network became targets of affiliate conglomerates like Bettor Collective as referral engines for sports-betting platforms.
Over the past two years, brands Barstool Sports and Score Media and Gaming also sold sizeable stakes to casino company Penn National Gaming, and became marketing vehicles for its sportsbooks in the US and Canada, respectively.
Media and sports betting need each other. Broadcasters and publishers need to keep audiences engaged, and are allured by the added revenue from advertising, referral, and brand-licensing fees. Gambling operators, meanwhile, need help drawing in new customers and improving retention, while lowering the costs of doing so.
In 2022, the lines between sports media and gambling will continue to blur.
Leagues like the NFL have embraced betting as a facet of the fan experience, and are enabling more ads to air in game broadcasts, more types of wagers to be placed, and alternate streamers that are made for gamblers. Broadcasters including Disney have said they plan to push further into sports betting. Pay-TV operators like FuboTV are bringing betting onto your TV screen during games. And startups such as PickUp and Data Skrive are working with publishers to help engage sports fans with their content.
On top of that, the US sports gambling industry is still in its infancy. Online sports gambling is not yet legal nationwide, including in the populous states of New York, Florida, Texas, and California. There's strong momentum though. New York is expected to turn on mobile sports betting this year.