Jim DeMarco | Sports industry needs betting more than ever – SportBusiness

Jim DeMarco | Sports industry needs betting more than ever – SportBusiness

Beyond starting the National Football League season on time, how can the United States sports industry re-energize the casual sports fan during a time of marked uncertainty? Sports betting partners may hold the key.

You have to hand it to the many American professional sports league, team, and media organizations for producing meaningful, albeit shortened, seasons and playoff series, as well as the NFL on-schedule start during the Covid-19 pandemic. These are remarkable feats.

But it’s hard to argue that the overall sports fan experience hasn’t suffered.

The US live sports hiatus knocked people off their sports media routines as fans are now asked to re-engage and navigate new season schedules and playoff formats. Given the revised, crammed sports calendars, a natural pandemic-induced increase in streaming entertainment consumption, and the sometimes still visibly jarring empty arena environment with a weird exhibition game-type feel, it’s no surprise we are seeing a recent run of news about national TV sports ratings declines.

Throw in some potential social injustice pushback and it’s a testament to the strength of US professional sports brands that per game national viewership hasn’t slipped even more.

While hardcore fans have likely regained their sports calendar bearings, this unique time presents opportunities to understand the casual fan’s motivations and explore ways to re-invent paths to fandom in even more aggressive and experimental means than before the pause in March.

The infamous casual sports fan – the