Bleacher Report is going all-in on gambling. Per the Wall Street Journal, the sports network is launching an NFL show focused on being a sports betting resource.

Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sportscaster Adam Lefkoe (a.k.a. The RapCast Guy) will host the program, aptly titled “Simms and Lefkoe: The Show.” The duo has co-hosted an NFL podcast for the network since 2014. This new program will be available in a weekly format via Bleacher Report’s app, social media outlets, and YouTube channel. The show premiered Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m.

The show, which ran roughly twenty minutes in its initial episode, provides the kind of general football insight that is the norm for an NFL-centric program, albeit in a more laidback and breezy atmosphere. However, the show eventually delves into gambling-specific topics, such as who will cover the spread, that likeminded shows on ESPN and major networks tend to avoid like the plague. Not only that, the show also includes a gambling hook. Lefkoe enters the 2018-2019 NFL season with $5,000 to bet on games, doing so against a fan.  If the fan loses, they won’t have to give any money. However, if they win, they’ll split the profit with Bleacher Report out of a pool that grows week to week.

The initial episode featured appearances by NFL players, coaches, and personalities on as guests, including New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, CBS commentator Tony Romo, former NFL receiver Terrell Owens, and Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay in the announcement. No word yet on how the league will feel about seeing these people associated with gambling, but such is the world we live in now that the Supreme Court essentially legalized sports betting in a ruling last year.

Dave Finocchio, Bleacher Report’s co-founder and chief executive, told the WSJ that he sees that court ruling as one that is about to trigger “a paradigm shift” in sports media. He expects shows that include or even focus on gambling will become more commonplace in the mainstream sports media landscape.

“Based on what happened in the UK sports betting market — and how the black market operates in the United States — the ability to bet on sports is going to make fans of the NFL more engaged than they have been,” Mr. Finocchio told the WSJ. “We think it’s that big of a deal, and we want to be a part of the conversation around sports betting.”

Of course, Bleacher Report isn’t the first sports media company of note to get on the gambling train. Bill Simmons and The Ringer launched “Against All Odds,” a gambling-focused podcast, last year (and he’d probably be more than happy to tell you he was first).  The Action Network, a new media company backed by Chernin Group investors, is also looking to cash in on the legalized sports gambling push. As is the Vegas Sports and Information Network, featuring Brent Musburger. And SI TV’s The Line. And those are only a few of the notable offerings out there, and TV networks are getting into the game too, with FS1 launching a betting-focused show this fall and others likely to offer even more gambling-focused shows down the road. We’ll see how Simms and Lefkoe can stand out in that field.

Much of the show’s success will likely hinge on the duo’s ability to provide viewers with credible gambling insights. While both have been following, playing, and working in the sport for most of their lives, there’s a big difference between X’s and O’s and consistently winning bets from the sidelines. Like the topic they’ve covering, the show could be a gamble, but Bleacher Report seems ready to take their chances.

[WSJ]

About Sean Keeley

A graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse related things for SB Nation, Neighborhoods.com, Curbed Seattle and many other outlets. He currently lives in Chicago.