NBC Sports to air in-play betting broadcasts in DC

Business News

NBC Sports Washington will produce an alternative broadcast centered on in-game betting when the Washington Wizards play the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 11. That game will be the first of eight betting-oriented Wizards games that the network plans to air this season.

The regional sports network’s overflow channel, NBC Sports Washington Plus, will carry the interactive live betting broadcast of the Wizards-Bucks matchup. Game announcers and advertising breaks will be the same as the RSN’s normal feed, but the screen will integrate statistics, odds, and point spreads.

We’ve been lucky because sports betting has rolled out in a way that has overlapped with our RSNs,” said David Preschlack, president of NBC Sports Regional Networks,“We’re trying to figure out ways to appeal to casual sports bettors to make the games more interesting … One of the real differentiators of the RSNs business is being able to try new things in different markets.”

At least initially, the feed is likely to appeal more to fantasy sports players than hardcore bettors, but it may set up real betting in the future. A free “Predict the Game” sweepstakes will involve simple questions such as how many points a specific player will score in a quarter or how many assists a player will reach in a half. Fans can visit NBC Sports Washington’s website to answer those questions for a chance to win $500.

“It’s the 1.0 version of where we’re ultimately going,” said Zach Leonsis, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the group that owns the Wizards. “This will get more advanced … The challenge for operators will be to make sure that the game play is supportive and not interruptive of the broadcast itself.”