NFL and NBA Commissioners Using Sports Betting to Attract More Fans

  • NBA and NFL seeking to combat dropping viewership numbers due to video streaming
  • Aim to increase fan engagement through emerging industries like esports and sports betting 
  • Plans to make viewing experience at stadiums and at home more immersive
  • Innovative technology like augmented reality and virtual reality will be used
football with NFL logo
The commissioners of the NFL and NBA are looking at emerging sectors like sports betting to increase falling levels of fan engagement.

Future of US sports

The commissioners for the NBA and NFL spoke at a conference in Idaho about how they are focusing on emerging trends like legal sports betting to attract fans.

This was at the Allen & Co. conference, where leading executives in the sporting world came together to talk about what the future holds for the sector.

One of the main concerns regarded the increasing popularity of video streaming platforms. The leagues rely heavily on revenue from traditional television outlets. With their share of the viewing market decreasing, the sports leagues are looking at other ways to drive revenue.

Role of sports betting

The NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, believes the technology that will allow them to take better advantage of legal sports betting is on its way.

The NBA is in the process of creating an improved app to cater for sports bettors.

It believes prop bets will be a major draw for new users. They will act as an extra incentive to view a game, which leads to greater engagement.

Silver is confident that the chance of corruption in the sport is lower  because of sports betting legalization. This is due to the large database of bets, as well as the ability for the league and operators to identify and track any suspicious betting trends.

The NBA is rolling out sports betting ads as part of its broadcasts. It is also partnering up with a number of gambling operators.

The association deals in place with MGM Resorts, the French National Lottery, Sportradar, and Genius Sports. As a result of these partnerships, the NBA will be able to distribute exclusive data to operators across the world.

The NFL stands to earn as much as $2.3bn in additional revenue each year when the sports betting market in the United States matures, according to the American Gaming Association.

It already has Caesars Entertainment on board as its official casino sponsor. This deal is worth about $30m a year and is in place initially for three years.

Commissioners comment on emerging trends

CNBC spoke to Adam Silver about his thoughts on the future of the league. He noted the competition that exists to gain people’s attention, and how they are looking at ways to get people more interested in watching their programming.

Measures to improve desirability include adding more stats to broadcasts, more information about players, innovative camera angles, augmented reality, and virtual reality.

The NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, also spoke to CNBC during the conference. He believes technology holds major importance in getting more fans into the stadiums and watching on television.

Speaking about fans at games, Goodell said he wants them to have access to the same level of information and the media as when watching the game on television. One of the main keys for this strategy is having access to Wi-Fi in all the league’s stadiums.

The league is looking at ways to incorporate augmented reality to improve the viewing experience for those watching at home. According to Goodell, it would allow viewers “to see what it’s like to stand behind Tom Brady as he’s looking downfield, to be able to see what it’s like as a running back runs through the line or defender tries to defend a play. It’s going to be a new experience that I think is just another great potential for the growth of our league.”

The Madden NFL video game franchise has always been popular. Therefore, the league is also looking at the emerging sector of esports with interest. Goodell believes there are ways to change the Madden games to make them more appealing to esports and its fans.