As a former (or should that be reformed?) bookie, I considered it an absolute pleasure and privilege to work in Sports. Starting my day with the back pages of the newspapers and planning our marketing and product development around sporting occasions was a lot more fun than what most of the people I knew who worked in other industries were doing! Now that I work in the Content Protection world, it is interesting to see data from my old life make its way back into my new life. The research just published by BBC into how young adults view football (or soccer for my North American friends!) is eye-opening from a variety of perspectives, not least the dangerous message it sends for the Sports TV world from the seeming lack of interest in attending, paying for and/or watching football in stadia or on screen.
However, one factoid that jumped out at me was that 44% of adults aged 18-24 are betting on football, while only 26% actually go to watch football. That 44% number does a lot to explain the recent reversal of position by US Sports Leagues (such as NBA and MLS) to go from opposing to supporting Sports Betting in the US (where it is only legal in Nevada). It also supports the rationale from several NFL owners, such as Mark Cuban, Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft, to invest in DFS sites such as Draft Kings. In the battle to keep the business of sports alive to the Millennial generation it seems that the interactivity and engagement that betting and/or DFS offers is a key ingredient. Something that is no surprise to a former British bookie such as myself, but a real game changer in the US.
Many eyes will be fixed on the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) hearing on December 4th and the expected ruling on the legitimacy of the current prohibition on Sports Betting (PASPA) in the following Spring. For what it is worth, I am odds-on that SCOTUS will herald the beginning of the end for Prohibition and that regulated, licensed Sports Betting has, one way or the other, a bright future in the US and will provide the Rights Owners with a lucrative new revenue stream, to off-set the drop in direct viewing revenues from Millennials.