As Louisiana moves closer to legalizing online sports betting, WBRZ, Manship’s ABC affiliate in Baton Rouge, is betting heavily that programs dedicated to those who gamble on sports is the next step for the online sports betting industry to transition from advertising on local TV to programming there.
Just a couple of years ago, the online sports betting industry spent a mere $10 million advertising on local TV stations. According to Nielsen estimates, by 2024 that number will jump to close to half a billion dollars annually with TV stations accounting for 80% of the online gambling ads.
Now, the transition from advertising on TV stations to providing programs on those stations looks to be next.
One station, WBRZ, the Manship family’s ABC affiliate in Baton Rouge, La., is betting heavily that programs dedicated to those who gamble on sports is the next logical step to cash in on the sports betting phenomena as Louisiana moves closer to legalizing online betting.
On June 7, WBRZ began airing 13 hours of sports betting programming a week from VSiN, the Sports Betting Network. For a station to launch 13 hours a week of television programming in a whole new category is history-making. According to WBRZ and VSiN, this marks the first time VSiN ‘s betting content will be broadcast over-the-air on a TV station.
“We mentioned we should get ahead of this,” he says. “We wanted to open up that category, obviously.”
Kozinko says listening to VSiN’s sports betting programs on the radio on his way home from work impressed him.
“They were pretty smart people, ahead of the game, teaching you what’s a smart bet,” he says.
So Kozinko says the station reached out to VSiN.
Brian Musburger, VSiN’s CEO, (Musburger’s uncle is the sportscaster Brent Musburger, who has a role in the business), says WBRZ saw VSiN’s content as “a more intelligent form of sports talk, a good fit to what they are doing on the digital side.”
Musburger says it’s funny because Baton Rouge “was one of the dream markets for us, as crazy as that may sound to some.”
Musburger says VSiN noticed that certain markets “have heavy betting activity on either Saturday or Sunday. Very few markets are strong in both and Baton Rouge, they love the Saints, they love LSU and the SEC. They are passionate fans.”
Viewers in Baton Rouge can watch VSiN’s programming on WBRZ+, a 24-hour cable news channel, and the programming is also available on WBRZ’s streaming apps.
The programs air weekday morning’s from 10 to 11, and weeknights from 8 to 9, as well as Saturday afternoons from 3 to 6.
“It is a huge commitment,” Musburger says.
He says the times VSiN’s programs air “is important real estate for us. Those are times when people are making important decisions. We hope we can help them make more informed betting decisions.”
Right now, this is just an experiment, Kozinko says, but he admits the sports betting lineup may expand “if there is more of a hunger for that content.”
Although Kozinko didn’t cite any specific dollar amounts, he says the deal is “like most syndicated shows with a split of commercial inventory.”
Kozinko says WBRZ has been cross-promoting VSiN’s programs, and that VSiN talent will be regular guests on WBRZ’s newscasts “and we are going to use that to push people to the shows” on WBRZ+.
In addition, Kozinko says WBRZ will add a category to its website and banner ads promoting VSiN’s programs.
Musburger says although “we couldn’t have picked a better place to start than Baton Rouge,” he expects to announce more TV stations airing VSiN’s sports better programs soon.
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