Darren Rovell appears to have found his ideal platform at The Action Network. So it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that the longtime sports business reporter is staying at the sports betting media outlet.
Sports business coverage may no longer have a place at a national outlet like ESPN, where Rovell previously worked. It’s probably viewed as too niche at a network such as CNBC, another of his previous stops. But The Action Network gives him a singular stage to be one of the top personalities in the industry.
On Tuesday, Rovell announced that he’s agreed to a new deal with The Action Network, though did not reveal details of his contract. Much like reporters and columnists who have written “Why I’m joining The Athletic” posts when joining that subscription-based sports publication, Rovell explained why he decided to stay, rather than possibly jump to a sportsbook.
“When it came down to it, I felt like I really didn’t have a choice.
I still wanted to be a journalist, and I didn’t feel I could be one while employed by a sportsbook.
I also didn’t feel like I could do what I do, as effectively as I do it, without my current team.
At The Action Network, I am surrounded by a team that is uniquely talented at executing best-in-class data-driven sports betting content with such aplomb. Combine that with the resources given to us thanks to our acquisition by Better Collective this past year and I felt it would be virtually impossible to build the structure we have here anywhere else.”
Like him or not for incessantly pushing his brand or acting like an authority on social media, Rovell was prescient in moving from a conventional sports media outlet to a publication that features coverage of sports betting. Gambling culture and coverage has exploded in recent years with sites like FanDuel and DraftKings, companies like Caesars Sportsbook, and betting becoming legal in an increasing number of states.
Betting companies are also positioning themselves as potential media outlets, if not news-making operations, hiring veteran sports personalities including Trey Wingo and Kenny Mayne, while pursuing established insiders like Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski.
Rovell acknowledged that was a strong possibility for him, but apparently prefers the autonomy he has at an independent media company that covers the industry. He’s been at Action Network since leaving ESPN in 2018, involved in content strategy in addition to reporting and promotion.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being the conduit for this information,” Rovell wrote, “and I have loved providing that data in all formats at the highest levels against the background of what is frankly still an overly toutish-type content voice — the whole ‘I like this team or that team’ based on a whim or an emotion.”
He’s found the right fit at the right time. Sticking around looks like the smart move.