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Verizon Could Enter The Sports Betting Space

Brandon Contes

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According to Bloomberg, Verizon, which continues to expand its sports content and coverage, will consider entering the sports gambling industry.

“There are some changes coming that we pay attention to. We stay close to that to see how it would affect our asset and how we may choose to respond,” Verizon Chief Financial Officer Matt Ellis said. “I’ve not looked at anything in detail. If someone has an idea around it, I’ll look at it like any other. But we are not getting ahead of ourselves there.”

Verizon is no longer just a communications company, but also a media company investing in sports with streaming rights to the NFL and NBA. Last year Verizon purchased Yahoo and its popular fantasy sports business which has tens of millions of fans, logging 30 billion minutes a year participating in fantasy sports. Many of those users pay to play fantasy sports, with the goal of winning cash prizes.

In the past, sports leagues have spent millions in legal fees to prevent expanded legalization of sports gambling. Since taking over as commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver hasn’t shied away from stating he expects sports gambling to be legalized in the next few years.

“We have studied these issues at length,” said NBA attorney Dan Spillane while testifying in front of a New York State Senate committee. “Our conclusion is that the time has come for a different approach that gives sports fans a safe and legal way to wager on sporting events while protecting the integrity of the underlying competitions.”

The NBA is pushing for sports gambling to be legalized, making betting available on smart phones and kiosks, while collecting 1% of every wager placed on its sport.

Last week Verizon and the NBA announced a partnership, creating a $25 million innovation fund to provide a unique viewing experience through the consumer’s mobile device. With the potential of legalized sports gambling, along with Verizon’s NFL and NBA streaming rights, the communication giant could offer a sports book which will pair live game broadcasts and live betting.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

PAC-12 Commissioner: Deion Sanders Adds Value In TV Rights Negotiations

“We knew some other information was coming, including the announcement of Coach Prime, and why would we do a media deal before that?”

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Even if you are not a fan of Coach Prime, his influence is hard to deny. Since accepting the head coaching job at Colorado, Deion Sanders has made the Buffaloes a hot topic in the sports media. That almost never happens.

Will that enthusiasm and curiosity translate into dollars and cents? George Kliavkoff thinks so.

The PAC-12’s Commissioner told The Athletic that he has seen Colorado already reap the benefits for itself. When the team opens the 2023 season with College Football Playoff participant TCU, he expects the conference and it media partners to see the value of Deion Sanders too.

“I can’t imagine what the ratings are going to be for that game,” he told Andy Staples.

Fans of the PAC-12 and media that cover the conference have been wary of the Big 12 raiding the West Coast for a number of the remaining top brands. The Big 12 has been seen has having a stronger position to emerge as the third mega-conference after solidifying deals with FOX and ESPN last month.

Kliavkoff also said that Sanders is a factor in the conference not having a new television deal lined up yet.

“We knew some other information was coming, including the announcement of Coach Prime, and why would we do a media deal before that?” the commissioner said adding that Deion Sanders “absolutely adds value” for the conference and its media partners.

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Sports TV News

Kevin Warren: Big Ten Not Closing Door On ESPN Forever

Jordan Bondurant

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This summer the Big Ten Conference inked new media rights deals with FOX, CBS and NBC that will be worth $7 billion per year over seven years. With the agreement, ESPN will no longer have rights to broadcast conference contests.

But to those saying that the conference will never again be partners with the Worldwide Leader, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren believes that isn’t the case.

“I’m constantly in a state of perpetual negotiation and relationship building,” Warren said in an interview at the Sports Business Journal Intercollegiate Athletics Forum on Wednesday. “I have incredible respect and admiration for (ESPN president) Jimmy Pitaro and (ESPN programming and original content president) Burke Magnus and (ESPN programming and acquisitions vice president) Nick Dawson. And now with the change from (former Disney CEO) Bob Chapek to Bob Iger, I have great respect for Disney as a company – and what its meant to our country – and for ESPN.”

Despite losing out on the Big Ten, which is shaping up to be one of the nation’s first college super conferences with the addition of USC and UCLA in 2024, ESPN will carry on with America’s other emerging super conference in the SEC, which will add Texas and Oklahoma as members in 2025. ESPN/ABC and the SEC have a 10-year media rights deal in place worth $300 million per season that will go into effect in 2024.

But Warren continued that with things being set in stone for at least the next decade in terms of media rights, there’s no reason to believe that the conference and the network can’t find ways to work together in the future.

“I’m a great believer that life is long, and I will continue to have communications with ESPN,” he said. “I have great respect for them. They’re incredibly important to this institution that we call college athletics. I stay in close contact, and opportunities do present themselves in unique ways.”

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Sports TV News

Netflix CEO: ‘We’re Not Anti-Sports, We’re Just Pro-Profit’

“He characterized expensive media rights as a “loss leader” in the streaming world and noted that Netflix doesn’t view sports as a necessity to grow.”

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Netflix will not join Apple and Amazon in the rush to gobble up live sports rights. Co-CEO Ted Sarandos addressed the streaming giant’s disinterest at the UBS Global Technology, Media & Telecom Conference on Wednesday.

He characterized expensive media rights as a “loss leader” in the streaming world and noted that Netflix doesn’t view sports as a necessity to grow.

“We’re not anti-sports,” Sarandos said according to Deadline. “We’re just pro-profit. We have yet to figure out how to do it. But I’m very confident we can get twice as big as we are without sports.” 

Questions about the interest the company has in carrying live sports have come up several times in the past. Sarandon made similar comments last year when asked about it.

Reed Hastings, Sarandos’s co-CEO at Netflix, has a slightly different view. In 2021, he indicated that Netflix could be interested in F1 rights someday thanks to the success of its documentary series Drive to Survive, but that would be a special case. Any league interested in doing business with Netflix, he said, would have to allow Netflix to control all of its content.

Ted Sarandos echoed that sentiment in his most recent comments. He said that the company does not see a way to profit by “renting big-league sports.”

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