The emerging media landscape for sports bettors

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Al Bernstein (left) and Brent Musburger unveil VSiN's first studio in 2017.

Al Bernstein (left) and Brent Musburger unveil VSiN’s first studio in 2017. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

As the U.S. sports betting market matures, a robust media landscape is forming alongside it, with companies aiming to educate and entertain bettors.

The state of play: One of the early entrants is Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSiN), which launched in January 2017. VSiN has three studios in Las Vegas (South Point, Mandalay Bay, Circa), one in Atlantic City (Borgata) and one outside Chicago (Rivers).

  • Much like Bloomberg, Cheddar and other financial news networks that broadcast from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, VSiN produces upward of 16 hours of daily programming from inside major sportsbooks.
  • Circa opened two weeks ago with the “world’s largest sportsbook,” and VSiN has a studio inside (see below).
  • “The sports betting world pays attention to the numbers Circa releases, and we’re right there, creating content from a place that helps open the market,” says CEO Brian Musburger, who recruited his uncle and longtime sportscaster, Brent, to leave ESPN and join VSiN nearly four years ago.

The big picture: Sports betting media can take on many different forms, from your standard handicapping show to more educational or comedic offerings.

  • Informative: This is VSiN’s niche. “Early on we wanted credibility with hard core sports bettors, but now as the market matures we’ve also recognized there’s a need for more ‘sports betting 101’ content,” says Musburger.
  • Entertaining: Think Barstool, whose personalities don’t profess to be experts, but their audience doesn’t care. For them, it’s about (virtually) sitting on the couch with friends, making bets and having a good time.
  • Mainstream: When you think of a mainstream sports betting program, perhaps you’re envisioning a “SportsCenter”-style show with a betting tilt. That’s essentially what ESPN’s “Daily Wager” is, and “Fox Bet Live” is similar.

What to watch: Sports betting programming was once considered taboo for TV networks. Now, it’s table stakes for survival and a new way to keep fans engaged.

  • Some networks will create their own programming, while others will pay companies like VSiN to produce shows for them (MSG+ already does this).
  • Meanwhile, digital outlets are creating their own content and earning affiliate revenue from sportsbooks by sending them potential customers.

Go deeper: The thriving offshore betting market

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