Wizards to produce alternate, betting-focused broadcasts

Josh Luckenbaugh
January 07, 2019 - 12:50 pm
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Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

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Eight upcoming Wizards games will have an alternate, sports betting-infused broadcast, starting with Friday's matchup against the Bucks. 

NBC Sports Washington Plus will carry these broadcasts, which will feature a free-to-play predictive contest called "Predict the Game" with a $500 prize, along with displays of real-time betting data and statistics. 

“It’s the 1.0 version of where we’re ultimately going,” Zach Leonsis, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at the Wizards' ownership group Monumental Sports & Entertainment, told SportsBusiness Daily. “This will get more advanced. … The challenge for operators will be to make sure that the game play is supportive and not interruptive of the broadcast itself.”

The D.C. Council voted to legalize sports betting in the city on Dec. 18, the law still waiting on Congressional approval. Leonsis expects sports betting in D.C. to be "up and running by MLB’s Opening Day."

For the Wizards broadcasts, "Predict the Game" will ask fans about 30 in-game questions such as "Will Trevor Ariza score 10+ points this quarter?" Viewers can then go to NBC Sports Washington's website to submit their answers, with the ultimate goal being fans can answer these questions directly through the broadcast. 

“We wanted to give fans a little taste of what they can expect and maybe explain to them what predictive gaming is,” Mark Friedman, NBC Sports Washington's director of creative services and advanced technology, told SportsBusiness Daily. “We want to let them know that it’s not this scary thing with a stigma associated with it. It’s fun. You can put $5 on a game and add a little bit of interest."

"Combining the excitement of live Wizards games with engaging predictive gaming and data feeds will deliver a very entertaining experience for viewers, from first-time gaming players to savvy sports bettors," NBC Sports Washington senior vice president and general manager Damon Phillips said in a press release. "The level of interest from fans, partners and sponsors in this area continues to increase, so we are pleased to offer this compelling product this season."

 Along with Friday's game, additional dates for these alternate Wizards broadcasts include: Jan. 27 at the San Antonio Spurs, Jan. 30 against the Indiana Pacers, Feb. 2 against the Bucks, Feb. 22 at the Charlotte Hornets, March 3 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, March 19 against the Utah Jazz and April 5 against the Spurs.

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