ESPN will begin airing betting-focused broadcasts of NBA games starting Wednesday, amid the ongoing expansion of legal sports betting markets across the US.
Available on both ESPN2 and ESPN+, the Daily Wager Special —ESPN’s first alternate presentation fully driven by sports betting content— will start off with a pregame show complete with predictions 15 minutes before tipoff, and follow that up with a halftime show featuring first-half betting results and second-half forecasts. Debuting when the Brooklyn Nets visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, the Daily Wager Special will air alongside The Worldwide Leader’s traditional game broadcast on ESPN.
Sports betting analysts Doug Kezirian, Joe Fortenbaugh and Tyler Fulghum will offer their insights from ESPN’s Las Vegas studios during the special telecast, and NBA analyst Kendrick Perkins will also contribute to the coverage.
Internally referred to as the “BetCast” by ESPN executives, the Daily Wager Special will not really offer play-by-play analysis and will instead go with a more conversational approach to covering game action. The game telecast will feature discussions on pregame odds (tracking closing lines for spread, total and props), tracking live odds (spread, total), discussion on futures (NBA MVP, conference odds, NBA Finals odds), in addition to updates from other games being played. Custom graphics will also be used.
“We know the sports fan is evolving in how they use our games and our information, and we need to evolve with them, and provide them with alternative experiences,” Mike Shiffman, VP of basketball production for ESPN, told Variety. “We hope by giving them more options that we serve them better and we grow our audience.”
In addition to the NFL and the NBA, ESPN has a sizable rights deal with MLB and recently secured the lion’s share of NHL rights for the 2021-2022 season, so the format could be adapted to work for the NFL and other pro leagues moving forward.
Most of the Daily Wager cast also contributed to an NFL-focused sports wagering program, Between the Lines, that aired on ESPN+ in January earlier this year.