Today, Americans are embracing sports betting, wagering on everything from football to darts to video games. That’s why NBCUniversal has been studying the outlook of this growing category and the promise it may hold for all our clients.
To that end, NBCU’s Sports Insights & Research team gauged consumer sentiment by surveying over 1,000 sports fans. The results were clear: While it may be too early to bet the house, sports betting opens exciting avenues for enhancing sports consumption and engagement.
Changing Attitudes & Laws
The recent uptick in sports betting is grounded in its increasing legalization. Our study revealed that 61 percent of sports fans support the practice’s legalization. The number who oppose? Just 7 percent. That eight-to-one margin of approval coincides with sweeping legislative changes nationwide. To date, 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting.
Sports fans nationwide are already getting in on the action. Two in three of those surveyed have participated in sports betting in the last two years, from betting moneylines in a sportsbook app to buying up squares at a Super Bowl party. With more than nine in ten fans accepting betting as a part of sports moving forward, it’s no longer a hypothetical scenario, but a present-day reality that companies of all sizes and sectors should follow closely.
Creating a Virtuous Cycle
That’s especially true for the media industry. For advertisers in particular, the legalization of sports betting could kickstart a positive feedback loop that fuels sports viewership growth.
It starts with more betting. Seven in ten current bettors told us that they plan to bet even more thanks to legalization. And roughly half of non-bettors say they now intend to bet on sports because of the changes in state laws.
More betting generates more consumption. Once they’ve placed a bet, fans are more likely to watch sports content — and more likely to watch more of that content. It’s not just live games — this lift in viewership spills over to ancillary programming too, like pregame and postgame shows. It even ripples beyond TV, with fans engaging more on social media and reading more analysis online. For advertising that runs alongside any of this sports content, the result is more eyeballs than ever.
It also means deeper engagement with this content. For 72 percent of fans, betting will increase their emotional connection with sports. As a 22-year-old female fan explained: “Whenever I bet on a golf game, I feel much more inclined to watch…It makes you feel like you’re a part of the game.” By giving fans one more reason to root for teams and players, betting increases viewer engagement with the content – and, by extension, the advertising within the content.
And incorporating sports betting into sports programming will only feed this virtuous cycle. With around two-thirds of fans telling us that seeing ads or integrations for sports betting would prompt additional bets, the process comes full circle.
Reading the Cards
Of course, it remains early days for sports betting. That’s why NBCU will continue to track the latest developments in this arena, and keep our clients informed of the opportunities that sports betting presents for brands across categories.
In the meantime, if you’d like to dive further into our 2022 Sports Betting Assessment, you can read more highlights here. And if you’re interested in exploring what sports betting could mean for your company, we’re here to provide the insights, analysis and support you need.