Expanded sports wagering in the US is providing an assist to the country’s most popular professional sport. NFL television ratings are rising and some team owners are taking note, including New York Giants co-owner and treasurer Jonathan Tisch.
Currently, 13 states have sports betting operational, but the figure was 12 at the start of the current NFL season, as the Oregon Lottery’s Scoreboard mobile application came online in October. Still, that small number of states permitting sports betting has been enough to move the needle in terms of ratings.
That is certainly a big influence,” said Tisch in a recent interview with CNBC. “Obviously, if you’re betting on a certain game, you’re going to watch to see what happens and you’re going to watch until the bitter end because there are many games that are won on a field goal with three seconds left.”
The combination of rising NFL TV viewership and increased sports betting comes as more Americans are altering their views for the positive on sports wagering. As betting on games becomes more mainstream, that could further bolster ratings and increase fan engagement.
There’s Something To Tisch’s Comments
As of Monday, Dec. 1, the NFL’s ratings were higher by five percent compared with the same period of the 2018 season. That after the league’s TV and digital viewership expanded by five percent last year following declines in 2016 and 2017.
Previous studies suggest that there are links between betting and improved TV ratings for the professional sports leagues. As Casino.org reported earlier this year, Variety conducted a survey with data research firm Proedge which revealed that bettors with action on a particular game are more likely to watch that contest on TV or online than a casual fan with no financial interest in the outcome.
Historical data indicate the most-wagered-on sporting contests in the US are often the ones that draw the heaviest TV audiences, such as the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby, and the NCAA Final Four.
Tisch added that in-stadium is something that will come to the NFL in the future.
I think the NFL is getting ready for it,” said the Giants co-owner to CNBC.
The Giants are one of six NFL franchises that play in states where sports betting is currently operational. The others are the New York Jets, who, like the Giants play in New Jersey; the Buffalo Bills, the Indianapolis Colts, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The number of NFL teams playing in states permitting sports betting is set to grow exponentially in 2020, which could further enhance NFL ratings. Not only are the Oakland Raiders moving to Las Vegas, but sports betting could come online in advance of the 2020 NFL season in Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C.
Ratings could be further boosted down the road if any or all of California, Florida, and Texas legalize sports wagering. Combined, those states are home to eight NFL teams (excluding the Raiders in California) and seven of the top 20 US media markets.