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Sinclair to explore sharply ratcheting up gambling content in their baseball broadcasts

Super Bowl 50 Proposition Bets At The Westgate Las Vegas Race & Sports SuperBook

LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 02: The betting line and some of the nearly 400 proposition bets for Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos are displayed at the Race & Sports SuperBook at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino on February 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The newly renovated sports book has the world’s largest indoor LED video wall with 4,488 square feet of HD video screens measuring 240 feet wide and 20 feet tall. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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Last week it was reported that Sinclair Broadcasting had acquired the 21 regional sports networks previously owned by Fox. As such, Sinclair will be the local baseball broadcaster for the majority of teams in the league.

Today, via Awful Announcing, we learn of an interview with the CEO of Sinclair who talks about what he plans to do with baseball broadcasts once they take control of them. The thing that sticks out the most is the massive increase in gambling content:

The acquisition will see Sinclair capitalizing on the new U.S. sports betting market.

In addition to increased fan engagement and viewership, he expects $1.5 billion to $2 billion of new ad revenue industry-wide “in short order,” from sportsbook operators and other companies marketing in the space.

Ripley also plans to eventually allow viewers to place bets right from their screens during live games, similar to how fans can wager in Europe now.

“If you’re interested in gaming, we’re going to add on extra stats, the ability to do prop bets in the game, pitch by pitch, play by play,” he said. “You can play along and wager while you watch.”

The in-game, on-screen wagers, which it is currently exploring with its Tennis Channel, would be done in partnership with sportsbook operators, but Sinclair would not want to become a bookie itself.

I wonder about the technical limitations to that -- game lag, even on cable broadcasts, is a thing and it’s possible that someone might know what happens on a pitch before it airs on the screen, but I assume they’re aware of that and will try to deal with it.

I’m mostly concerned about broadcast clutter. We already have so much chatter on TV broadcasts that is about stuff other than the actual game at hand -- even tangents that start with game action but linger for several pitches or even batters -- and I’d really hate it if broadcasts became so tied up with this side content that the game is ignored. Again, something they’ll have to consider.

Whaddaya think?

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