NBC Mulls Sports Betting Role After Success of Fan Predictor App

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  • Consumers to spend $287 billion annually on sports bets by 2021, Deloitte says.
  • Sports networks continue to define roles as either operators or content providers.

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Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

NBC launched its Sports Predictor App in December 2018 with a single-game contest that allowed soccer fans to win cash by correctly predicting the outcomes of five Premier League matches over a weekend.

The results so far have the network considering its role in the future of sports betting.

NBC Sports Predictor has since incorporated other parts of NBC’s lineup, including NASCAR, the PGA Tour, and the NFL, resulting in just under $3 million in prize money, according to Dan Pozner, director of sports betting content. More than two-thirds of the total prize pool was distributed to winners of NBC’s Sunday Night 7, where NFL fans answer seven questions about player performance. 

“We launched NBC Sports Predictor after looking at our partners in the U.K. in Sky Sports and the success they’ve had with Sky Sports Super 6 used for the Premier League,” Pozner said. “Millions of people play Super 6 every weekend, so we thought it would be a great way to complement our Premier League rights in the U.S.” 

Over 1 million people in the U.S. have created accounts on the NBC Sports Predictor app. More than half of all subscribers also regularly play more than one game, checking the app on average seven times per week, according to data provided by NBC Sports.

Premier League Pick ‘Em, played over the course of the top English league’s season, draws the most fan interaction on NBC Sports Predictor.  However, Sunday Night 7 is the most played game and the one that’s helped NBC Sports quadruple its app user base after its launch in September.

“Sunday Night 7 had the biggest prize pool, at $2 million, given the size of the audience,” said Pozner, adding that 27% of app users that played Sunday Night 7 won money. 

NBC Sports distributes winnings to multiple players via a tiered pay scale model, unlike single-winner jackpots offered by Fox through its Fox Sports Super 6 app. 

“Retention-wise in year one, we thought it would be better to hand out large dollar amounts each week,” Pozner added.

NBC now envisions becoming a bigger player in the overall sports betting industry as it looks to improve the content offered to fans on its family of networks. Since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in the spring of 2018, 14 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting.

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Consumers will spend a combined $287 billion annually on bets by 2021, according to a recent report from Deloitte. Sportsbooks are also projected to collect $4.6 billion over the same period.

NBC Sports, like its broadcasting peers, now must choose to be an operator or a content provider that supplies data to consumers before games.

A few of the network’s rivals have already cemented their position in the growing industry. Fox Bet launched in September as an online sportsbook. Turner Sports – through Bleacher Report – and ESPN have agreed to content-based deals with Caesars Entertainment. 

NBC Sports is currently exploring partnerships with multiple operators, according to Will McIntosh, executive vice president, NBC Sports digital and consumer business.

“We’ve evaluated everything from A-to-Z to even becoming an operator, and I think we have decided it’s not somewhere we want to go,” McIntosh said. “I think we are going to try to evolve NBC Sports and our digital properties to be the place that, in particular, the casual bettor comes to get news and information relevant to betting.”

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NBC Sports Predictor has also conveniently offered the network actionable proof that there is strong appetite for its involvement in the industry.

“In one year, we’ve developed a database of a million people who are making sports predictions. Those same people will likely want to place casual bets on sporting events,” McIntosh said. “We definitely know that with our audience we can play a big role in the space.”