Gambling drives TV sports viewership, says AGA

Gambling drives TV sports viewership, says AGA

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Sports betting appears to make the sport more popular with fans

A new study that found the NFL would hugely increase its TV viewership if gambling were to be allowed in the US was released in the same week that Twitter revealed it had achieved a global audience of 2.3 million for its first-ever Thursday night NFL stream last week.

In its continued fight to highlight the benefits of regulated sports-betting, the American Gaming Association (AGA) enlisted the research arm of TV ratings company Nielsen to prove that gambling drives up the ratings for any given sporting event.

The study of 1,000 adults in the US found that viewership for NFL regular season games could rise from 40 million to 57 million if sports-betting was legalised. The survey found that those that regularly bet on games watched on average 19 more games in the regular season than those who refrained from betting.

The survey suggested sports-bettors made up only 25% of the total NFL audience but put in more time watching the games, accounting for 47% of all regular season NFL minutes watched. If betting were legal, the survey found that the number of bettors would increase to 36% of the total audience and would consume 56% of all regular season NFL minutes watched.

The survey also found evidence that these consumers were more susceptible to advertising – with more dwell time in front of the TV even when a game wasn’t in progress - and were more likely to discuss their bets on social media.

Indeed, the AGA survey came in the same week that NFL live games made their streaming debut on Twitter and notched higher-than-expected audience numbers. The average audience was 233,000 with each viewer watching for an average of 22 minutes. In comparison, the TV broadcast reached an average audience of 15.4 million viewers.

Dror Ginzberg, chief executive of video creation platform Wochit, said Twitter’s Thursday Night football deal had really paid off. “Twitter has been able to focus its resources on its core product and as last night showed, it has already created a seamless, one-stop-shop for sports fans.”

Geoff Freeman, president and chief executive of the AGA, said the Federal ban on sports-betting was “failing miserably”. “Broadcasters and advertisers who desire highly engaged viewers would reap the benefits of shifting tens of millions of sports bettors from the $150 billion underground betting market to a legal, transparent environment that’s similar to what exists in Nevada, across Europe and elsewhere around the world,” he added.

The debate regarding the banning of sports-betting in the US has become more high profile in recent years in the wake of the rise (and partial fall) of daily fantasy sports (DFS). The Nielsen survey found that betting on games was twice as popular as DFS among avid sports fans, by a 51% to 26% margin. Among NFL-specific bettors, 46% bet on a single game outcome versus 28% who played DFS. Additionally, as an indication of the types of fans bettors are, 44% of NFL bettors (versus only 10% of non-bettors) consider themselves avid fans.

Totally Gaming says: The figures from the AGA will be no surprise at all to European eyes where we know for certain the close links between the viewership for sporting events and the gamblers betting on the match. What is interesting, though, is the degree to which sports-betting is more popular than DFS even in a country where it is not allowed. It points to the uphill struggle facing fantasy operators in markets where sports-betting is legal. Meanwhile, the Twitter figures are interesting and point to the continuing importance of social as a means of distribution.

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