If you’ve watched a sports game recently, you’ve probably watched a sportsbook advertisement, too. What started with sportsbooks running commercials during games has evolved into massive partnerships with leagues, teams, and even players. The sports betting industry is changing the sports landscape by bringing fans new ways to watch the game. As these companies continue to challenge traditional marketing, more and more athletes want in on the action. From NFL superstar Rob Gronkowski to sports media personality Pat McAfee, let’s take a closer look at some of the sportsbooks’ most innovative partnerships.
Super Bowl Promotion
One player that everyone will be rooting for in this weekend's Super Bowl is Rob Gronkowski. While Gronk isn't playing in the actual game this year, he’s still giving fans something to cheer for. FanDuel sportsbook and Gronk have teamed up for a one-of-a-kind, live Super Bowl advertisement. During a third quarter commercial break, Gronk will attempt a 25-yard field goal to win fans around the country a share of $10 million. Any mobile FanDuel user who bets $5 or more on the Super Bowl will be eligible to split the $10 million pot in free bets. Gronk inked his exclusive partnership with Fanduel back in December, and now they are poised to create one of the most anticipated Super Bowl ads of all time.
Partnering with Active Athletes
Last March, BetMGM joined forces with Connor McDavid, becoming the first sportsbook to partner with an active athlete in a major North American sports league. Other active athletes soon followed, with MLB player Charlie Blackmon and NFL player Davante Adams also becoming sportsbook brand ambassadors. While some fans find the new deals exciting, others question if they are detrimental to the integrity of the game.
If a player is partnered with a sportsbook, their league contract prohibits them from betting on games, but several leagues have had to take disciplinary action against their own players for violating those contract terms. For example, in 1989, the MLB banned the all-time hits leader Pete Rose from the league and declared him ineligible for the Hall of Fame after he was found guilty of betting on games he played and managed in. In 2022, NFL wide receiver Calvin Ridley was suspended for the entire season after placing bets on NFL games he was not participating in. Pro sports leagues take pride in maintaining the integrity of their game, so any contract violations come with harsh punishment. With zero-tolerance policies in place, fans can rest assured that many of the benefits of sportsbooks, including viewership increases and revenue generation, outweigh the cons.
Pat McAfee Partnership
Former NFL punter, Pat McAfee, is currently one of the most popular media personalities in the world. After retiring from the NFL in 2017, McAfee joined sports media company Barstool Sports to help them expand their reach into the midwest. He has since moved on from the company and held roles within the WWE, ESPN, Fox, and his own brand, Pat McAfee Inc. The Pat McAfee Show broadcasts daily via Youtube live stream and Sirius XM radio, with each episode averaging 300K views. In April of 2022, McAfee and Fanduel Sportsbook struck a 4-year partnership deal totaling $120 million. A deal of this magnitude is unprecedented considering McAfee collected only $15 million during his 8-year NFL career and does not broadcast his show on a major television network. After the deal, the show moved to its new “Fanduel Igloo” headquarters and began incorporating Fanduel advertising into its broadcasts. McAfee even promotes his own Fanduel bets as part of the sports betting company’s push to influence fans.
Sportsbooks continue to go all-in spending millions of dollars on high-profile brand ambassadors, and this trend will continue as the industry further expands. According to Forbes, an estimated $1.8 billion was spent on sportsbook advertising in 2022. This number is projected to reach close to $3 billion by 2024, as there are hopes California will open its doors to mobile sports betting in the upcoming year. With the integration of sportsbook advertisements into nearly every broadcast and arena around the world, sports betting has changed the way sports are consumed. This trend will only continue as more states legalize and the sportsbooks continue to rake in the cash.