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ESPN+ and the Action Network Launch Betting Show

Brandon Contes

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Earlier this week, John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal reported regional sports networks would look to launch sports betting related shows before they become common on a national level. Because sports gambling will be legalized individually by each state, it’s logical to expect local networks to emphasize sports betting as it becomes legal within their region.

With New Jersey expected to legalize sports betting soon, SportsNet New York, which serves most of New Jersey, will be eyeing the addition of betting coverage to their lineup.

“Our hope and expectation is that this is an opportunity for us in the second half of 2018,” SNY president Steve Raab told Ourand. “There are some states and some networks where my guess is that it could be a year or two — or never — before there’s an opportunity.”

New Jersey was hoping to be open for sports betters by Memorial Day Weekend, but fell short of that goal. According to USA Today, Delaware will now be the first new state to offer sports betting, opening for business on Tuesday June 5th.

Sports gambling programs reaching the national stage on ESPN or FS1 will depend on how quickly states follow suit to join Delaware in legalizing the practice. ESPN won’t put resources towards a wagering show if Delaware is the only state where sports betting is legal, however, once the number of states with legal sports gambling reaches 25 or 30, national networks will need to adjust their programming accordingly.

While ESPN and FS1 might not be ready to put a gambling show on their national network, Ourand reported the new subscription-streaming platform, ESPN+ has launched a betting show in conjunction with The Action Network.

I’ll Take That Bet is the first sports wagering related content on the ESPN+ platform, hosted by The Action Network Head of Media, Chad Millman along with retired NFL player Geoff Schwartz, NBA reporter Matt Moore and former MLB All-Star Paul Lo Duca. Two of their betting experts will be featured in each 15-minute show, with all of them alternating to select 10 bets off a betting board. Shows will be released multiple times per week in the 5:00 – 6:00 pm ET hour.

ESPN and The Action Network were reportedly working on a gambling show for ESPN+ prior to the Supreme Court decision on May 14th allowing states to legalize sports betting. It’s probable they were planning the show prior to the decision, but ESPN and The Action Network knew the Supreme Court decision was coming soon. Had the Supreme Court surprisingly ruled in the other direction, disallowing states to legalize sports wagering, it’s unlikely they would have rolled betting related content on ESPN+.

“Our ambition was to be in this space with our premium product at the outset,” said ESPN Senior VP/Original Content, Newsgathering & Digital Media Rob King.

“We know this content has its audience,” King told SBJ’s Ourand. “We’re putting together a strong portfolio of content and distribution for ESPN+. This will add value overall.”

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

Fox Officially Unveils NFL Broadcast Teams

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In what has been considered a formality for some time, Fox today officially unveiled Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Erin Andrews, and Tom Rinaldi as their number one NFL broadcast team Monday. Burkhardt and Olsen were elevated to Fox’s top booth after the departure of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to ESPN’s Monday Night Football earlier this year.

There were some reports that Drew Brees could have been a possibility to join the network, but those discussions fell apart.

The network’s other teams include several familiar faces to football fans:

#2 team: Joe Davis, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Pam Oliver
#3 team: Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Kristina Pink
#4 team: Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Shannon Spake
#5 team: Kevin Kugler, Mark Sanchez, Laura Okmin
#6 team: Chris Myers, Robert Smith, Jen Hale

Olsen’s jump to the number one team with Burkhardt is a formality until the retirement of Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady. The seven-time Super Bowl winner will ascend to Fox’s number one booth upon his retirement, whenever that may be.

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Sports TV News

Ryan Clark, Mad Dog Get Into Heated Argument on ‘First Take’

“Mad Dog, stop screaming at me now, bro. For the last time, you’re gonna stop screaming at me,” Clark interrupted.

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Former Pittsburgh Steeler, and current ESPN NFL analyst Ryan Clark and recent Radio Hall of Fame inductee Chris “Mad Dog” Russo squared off on Monday’s edition of First Take, with a heated exchange taking place between the two.

After a discussion about Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas meandered into a discussion about whether Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp would be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame if he never played another game, Clark said about Hall of Fame voters “they must be voting like you (Russo) vote for the Heisman, where you just vote on whoever the hell you want based off the fact that they play quarterback”.

Russo quickly took exception to the perceived slight.

“Ryan, hold on now,” Russo said, in a louder manner than normal. “You said something, now I’m going to comment. I’ve been voting for the Heisman since before you were born.”

“Mad Dog, stop screaming at me now, bro. For the last time, you’re gonna stop screaming at me,” Clark interrupted.

“You said something that wasn’t right,” Russo said.

“Lower your voice,” the former Steeler interrupted again.

“I’ve been voting for the Heisman since before you were born,” Mad Dog reiterated, with a lower volume. “30 years.”

“I don’t care about that,” Clark rebutted.

“You’re saying I’m voting for the Heisman and saying I don’t deserve a vote. I’ve been voting for 30 years!”, Russo began to raise his voice again.

“I never said you don’t deserve a vote,” Clark replied before clarifying he disagrees with Russo’s sentiment about the college football award being only awarded to quarterbacks.

It’s not the first time Russo has clashed with First Take contributors. A discussion with J.J. Reddick went viral earlier this year after Reddick told Russo previous NBA players played with “plumbers and firefighters”.

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Sports TV News

Todd Frazier Joining ESPN Little League World Series Booth

It will be a memorable summer for Fraizer at the LLWS because he will be inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence. 

Ricky Keeler

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When people talk about 11-year MLB veteran Todd Frazier, some of the things that are usually mentioned on broadcasts usually is that he is from Toms River, New Jersey and that he played in the Little League World Series in 1998 (won the championship). Now, Frazier will have a bigger connection to the annual event in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

As first reported by Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati EnquirerFrazier will be in the TV booth (remotely) for ESPN for this year’s Little League World Series. He made his broadcast debut on Monday morning during one of the New England region semifinals between Maine and Massachusetts. 

Frazier told Nightengale that he wants to use this event to begin his second career in the broadcasting industry.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, especially for the Little League World Series since I’ve been a part of it. I know it and understand it really well. Kind of kickstart my second career here.” 

It will be a memorable summer for Fraizer at the LLWS because he will be inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence. 

The Little League World Series begins on Wednesday, August 17 and ends on Sunday, August 28. It will be broadcasted on ESPN and ABC.  

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