Fox Bet
I wrote an op-ed for on May 6 claiming a marriage between sports broadcasting and sports betting looked like the future of both industries when a couple of the biggest players came out. Essentially, I said the future is now.

The initial deal between FanDuel Group and Sportradar AG will allow FanDuel Sportsbook in New Jersey to become the first US sports betting operator to offer live sports broadcasts. My point was it gave us a window into what sports betting and broadcasting are soon going to look like.

Three days later, Fox Corporation and The Stars Group one-upped it all in a rather big way.

One of the biggest names in sports broadcasting is spending $236 million to buy 4.99% of a gaming giant. Plus, together the pair is going to launch its own sports betting platform in the fall of 2019.

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The future of Fox Bet

Fox and Stars will call the venture Fox Bet and launch two sports wagering products under that banner this year. The first will be a free-to-play contest of sorts. It will offer cash and prizes to anyone in the US who can pick winners in a variety of games.

The other is a real-money online sportsbook in states where online sports betting is legal. And where the pair can procure a license. First up will be New Jersey. The fledgling BetStarsNJ online and mobile sportsbook product will be replaced by Fox Bet and the name recognition it brings.

It should give Stars a bigger piece of the NJ sports betting pie. But there’s certainly more to the deal than that.

By most accounts, Stars will be looking to recreate in the US what it has with Sky Bet in the UK. There, it has used the name of one of the leading sports broadcasters on the continent to dominate the UK online gaming industry.

Nothing small about the Fox-Stars deal

On May 6 I was talking about the pending sports betting and broadcasting marriage and giving sports fans the chance to watch and bet on games in the same place online. I said that both sides are quickly embracing the idea.

Sportsbooks like it. In the UK, operations like Sky Bet stream events and take bets on them. They’ve seen action on these games increase exponentially. Broadcasters have to like it as well.  They are starting to see it as a creative way to help cover the cost of TV rights deals for various sports.

At the time, the courtship of sports broadcasting and sports betting in the US looked like it was going to start out small. After all, just mid-level tennis matches and German Bundesliga soccer were part of the FanDuel-Sportradar deal.

Keeping it small was the fact US sports leagues like the NFLNBA, and MLB are locked into long-term TV rights deals. These deals were in place long before the spread of legal sports betting and its rise to legitimacy.

Moving up the marriage

21st Century Fox sold what amounts to about two-thirds of its entertainment assets to Walt Disney Co. for $71 billion in March. However, the newly formed Fox Corporation still owns the No. 1 cable news channel in the country and various TV networks with rights to things like NFL and MLB games. In fact, both next year’s Super Bowl and this year’s World Series will be broadcast by Fox.

I said that it was only a matter of time before long-term TV rights deals expire and sports betting and sports broadcasting come together like never before.

This Fox-Stars Group deal moves up the timeline significantly.

A media company that already has such licenses locked up entering the sports betting sphere is a game changer. Fox and Stars have set the date for a high-society wedding between sports betting and sports broadcasting this year. The future is now.