One of the things that set Fox Sports 1 apart from ESPN was how they highlighted gambling during Fox Sports Live and other broadcasts. ESPN has now taken that advantage away from Fox, jumping into the betting industry with a new portal on ESPN.com.
An ESPN spokesperson tells Awful Announcing, “We recognize that fan interest in this information has grown and our coverage has been expanding. We will approach this subject the way we do any beat we cover – providing information while examining trends, topics and stories that are shaping the wider conversation.”
The portal itself is interesting – in addition to columns (focusing on, of course, the weekend’s football games), there are sections for relevant stats for major sports, weekly lines, future odds, and ESPN Insider’s Pick Center. The content itself is interesting, but I’m not exactly an expert gambler.
Some small things I noticed while looking at the site – the college football section is listed “national college football” with no mention of the NCAA on the page. Also, there are no logos next to the NFL teams on the page, likely at the urging of the NFL, who continues to stick its head in the sand when it comes to gambling on the sport.
For fans who aren’t diehard gamblers, there’s a decent, although basic, amount of information provided. I think the real story here is ESPN finally starting to fully embrace sports betting, which isn’t going away any time soon. They’ve been covering it for a while through the magazine, website, and other outlets. But now there is one, unified, dedicated home for it.
It’ll be interesting to see if this focus on gambling spills over to television too – all you need is a half-hour every Saturday or Sunday. With how inundated the fantasy football television market is, I think sports betting could be the next big foray for the major networks, and ESPN has positioned itself to be a player in this market.