The Washington Redskins Offer Cash Prizes for Free Bets on Preseason GamesSeptember 21, 2019 Matt Speakman
For the four games of their 2019-20 preseason, the Washington Redskins are airing a betting-focused broadcast for their regional TV viewership. Fans have the opportunity to make free wagers on in-game outcomes, and correct guesses receive $1,000 in cash prizes every quarter of the game.
While regular coverage of the game still airs, NBCS Washington Plus will host the “Predict the Game” telecast. The three remaining preseason games kick off on August 15, 22, and 29, 2019, at 7:30 PM EDT.
A Brief History of “Predict the Game” Telecasts
Starting in January of 2019, NBCS Washington aired eight Wizards games with a “Predict the Game” telecast. Alongside the chance to win $500 cash prizes, the game’s regular broadcast was surrounded by betting data and statistics updated in real time. The result: an increase in overall viewership, and they’ve repeated the formula for preseason Redskins games.
As NBCS Washington VP and GM Damon Philips told Sports Business Daily: “We want casual fans to be more involved in the broadcast. When they are more involved, they stay longer.”
To place free bets on the games, you visit the website displayed during the telecast and make your guess. (Contest is only open to residents of Washington D.C. and some surrounding states.) Those familiar with online or brick-and-mortar sportsbooks will note the similarities between this promotion and live (or in-game) betting. Some obvious differences include the lack of real-money wagers, an extremely limited win potential, and guesses dictated by the programming. However, to even the casual observer, the similarities are striking.
As more American states legalize the sportsbook, promotions like “Predict the Game” could serve as a segue into sports betting. And by showcasing a spike in ratings for games with otherwise low viewership, it is likely that other broadcasts will pick up on the trend. The money made from additional advertising revenue more than compensates for the cash prizes, and increased fan engagement can translate to higher game attendance.
Sports Betting at Capital One Arena
In March of 2019, Ted Leonsis, who owns both the Washington Wizards of the NBA and the Washington Nationals of the NHL, announced that he will open a sportsbook inside Capital One Arena. He stated that access will be mainly granted from outside the arena (those not attending the game); however, fans may be permitted to enter and exit from inside for certain events.
So, despite tenuous legality across the rest of the country, America’s capital is positioned to become a sports betting hub in its own right.
Overall, NFL Ratings Have Rebounded
“Sunday Night Football” on NBC is the highest rated prime time show, and has been for eight years running. But in the first nine weeks of the 2016-17 NFL season, ratings were down 14 percent, a dip that didn’t fully rebound until the 2018-19 season. Because President Trump called out the decline of the NFL’s ratings on Twitter, it’s still relatively fresh in the public consciousness. However, the ratings have since rebounded.
Rather than to recoup ratings, the “Predict the Game” telecast is more likely designed to improve the viewership of preseason games in particular, which pales in comparison to the regular season.