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Friday Four-Pack 10.6.23
NFL's Taylor Swift motives. Blame for Belichick. WEEI ratings bump. NFL Picks!
Okay so now I get it. I think.
The NFL has become Taylor Swift-obsessed. To the point where FanDuel made it so Travis Kecle’s salary for daily fantasy contests this week ended with ‘89’ in honor of Swift’s 1989 album. They knew some moron like me would mention it. Well done, FanDuel.
Yes, it’s goofy. Like much most of the Swift/Kelce/NFL conversation has been the last few weeks. But based on the reporting in the NY Post, I get what the NFL is doing here. And it makes sense.
In addition to the constant shots of Swift and Co. in their suite for Chiefs/Jets, the NFL reportedly asked its broadcast partners to promote her new movie for free.
In the NFL’s undying quest for Taylor Swift’s heart, it asked its networks — NBC, ESPN, Fox and CBS — to show promos for her upcoming movie for free, The Post has learned.
ESPN and NBC acquiesced to the request and showed promos for Swift’s movie during the content portion of their pregame shows this past Sunday and Monday.
ESPN played the Swift movie promos for her concert during “Sunday NFL Countdown” and “Monday NFL Countdown.”
NBC’s free promo was on its pregame show, “Football Night in America,” prior to Chiefs-Jets.
NFL fans and media seemed annoyed by it. Taylor Swift fans are not suddenly going to become die-hard NFL fans. So what’s the plan here?
From Andrew Marchand’s story.
TV executives speculated that the NFL’s goal with Swift is the Super Bowl halftime show, which she has never done.
And there it is.
Taylor Swift is the biggest thing in music since Michael Jackson. Her fanbase is obsessed. I mean, free posters they gave away for her movie are being sold for hundreds of dollars on EBAY. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Getting her to do that halftime show would be huge for the NFL.
So you promote her going to games. You ask your TV partners to give her free promotion for her movie. Because you know the guy calling sports radio complaining about too much Taylor Swift, he’s not going anywhere. He’s going to keep betting his same-game-parlays and watching RedZone for seven hours every Sunday.
On the flip side, if you convince Swift to do the halftime show, you gain millions (and millions?) of viewers for your biggest game of the year.
This is a no-lose for the NFL. Trade some promotion now for the chance to basically guarantee record ratings for the Super Bowl.
I have no idea if Swift/Kelce is real. But I do know it makes sense for the NFL to try and secure the biggest name in entertainment for their biggest game. Even if it leads to over-the-top media coverage in the meantime.
Let’s get to the rest of today’s Four-Pack.
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On Bill Belichick’s role in the state of the 1-3 Patriots…
Following up on an argument that broke out on KMS this past week.
As always I advise listening to the football rantings of a man in his basement office at 1.5x speed.
On the need for fixed odds wagering in horse racing…
I don’t know if it’s because I’m not focused on planning out four-hour radio shows five days a week. Or maybe it's because I’ve been writing here every Friday for the last 30 weeks, usually with some sort of tie into horse racing.
Whatever the reason, a topic I find myself thinking about almost every day is the current state of pari-mutuel wagering (betting on horses) in 2023.
And I love the game. Love the puzzle that is handicapping and then trying to put together winning tickets. But the betting product right now? It’s not in good shape.
And the fact that the people in charge don’t seem to realize it scares the shit out of me.
“If you’re a player and you come to this game and you’re not getting rebates and you’re playing into a trifecta pool with a 30 percent takeout or a 24 percent takeout, you can’t win,” said Marshall Gramm, a professor of economics at Rhodes College who employs a computer program to make bets and who also gets rebates on his play. “Why would we expect there to be any serious players left?”
Patrick Cummings, the executive director of the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation, a think-tank for racing funded by several well-heeled owners and breeders, said that his analysis of wagering trends over the past two decades has shown that “mainstream” players have “dwindled quite substantially” as the share of CRW handle has exploded from an estimated eight percent in 2003 to one-third today. That one-third share is coming from approximately 15 CRW groups, Cummings said.
It’s gotten to the point where California basically fudged their handle numbers to hide how much of a drop they had there.
The “jackpot” bets that racing has pushed to promote the product -yeah those pools are also dominated by CAW players. Even when you win, you’re likely seeing value sucked out of the payout by the computers.
And while it’s not some magic fix, one way to grow the game among casual players would be to get fixed-odds wagering in place across the country as quickly as possible.
With pari-mutuel wagering, you might bet a horse at 4.5-1 - but if the odds shift to 2-1 at post-time, well, that’s your price.
With fixed-odds wagering, it’s like betting on sports. You bet longshot at 10-1 on the moneyline - that’s your price. It’s locked it. Again, think of sports betting.
That’s a much easier concept to explain to a new or casual player than, “Yeah, I know you bet the horse at 4.5-1, but the computers liked that horse too and they bet about 1000x more than you so yeah, you get 2-1. Sorry.”
Given how comfortable people have become with betting sports over the last few years, having this option presented to them when it comes to betting on horses makes a lot of sense.
Between 2010 and 2015, Australian racing handle was stagnant, generating between A$8 billion to A$ 12 billion ($5.3 billion to $8 billion USD.) With the growth of mobile betting, Henson said racing now handles A$40 billion ($26.7 billion USD) annually.
Of that total, 75% comes from fixed odds, and 25% is parimutuel.
Henson shared that horse betting accounts for 65% to 70% of all handle in Australia. In the UK, horse betting accounts for 20% to 25% of the overall handle.
“Racing players also bet on sports. The cross-sell from racing to sports players is rock solid in all those markets,” Henson said, adding there is certainly ground to be made up when turning sports bettors into horse bettors.
The only state that offers fixed-odds wagering currently is New Jersey. There is no governing body for pari-mutuel racing in the US, so getting fixed-odds wagering on betting menus would mean going state-to-state.
And the reality is racing might have missed its window - this should have probably been in place the first day sports betting went legal here in the US. Now? Well if you believe FanDuel VP of Racing Andrew Moore, it’s going to be a while.
"I'm hopeful that I can make the case over time but I think we need to realize that fixed-odds is going to be a slow burn as we get rights holders and horsemen on board," Moore said. "And even at that point, there's a lot of legislation that would need to change in different states; a lot of regulation that would need to change."
The feeling I get as an avid player is that there are people in the industry scared to move forward. People who refuse to see the erosion of the betting product. People willing to lie about handle numbers to make themselves (and the industry) feel better. People who are afraid of change.
And it’s too bad because it can be a great wagering exercise. But unless the industry wakes up and sees what’s going on, there’s going to be no one left playing.
On a couple of quick-hitters…
Mentioned the Boston summer radio ratings briefly in the audio above. 98.5 The Sports Hub won the summer book with men 25-54, beating WEEI overall 12.6-6.2. The closest race was in the mornings, where WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show finished second with an 11.6 to Toucher and Rich and their 15.3. A win, but a big jump for WEEI. We’ve written about Fred Toucher’s absence and how it might affect that show, and I believe that was a big part of this number for the summer. I will not be surprised when the gap is widened again this fall.
The good AM drive numbers are not helping the other shows at the station. WEEI middays did a 6.8. Afternoon drive did a 3.8(!!!). Sox pregame hour did a 2.4 And nights did a 3.9 - but WEEI is not local up until midnight these days. At last check, they go to a “best of” replay at 10 PM most nights.
But across the board after 10 AM, 98.5 dominated.
So they’ll (WEEI) probably spin this as a positive, that sort of jump in the morning. But the reality is there was not real impact on any other show at the station.
I have heard rumblings of a podcast company looking at launching its own “sports radio-like” competitor to The Hub and WEEI in Boston. It would be live on YouTube and then in podcast form later. Given the combined audience of the two sports stations in town, it makes sense.
The walls appear to be closing in on PrizePicks, UnderDog, and other companies that offer Pick Em-style parlays. New York is the latest state to ban these types of plays, saying they’re mimicking sports betting. Given how aggressive the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has been in trying to lead the way in betting legislation, it’s only a matter of time before they get around to following the decision of New York. As a fan of these games and smaller sites, it stinks. But I get it - it’s just sports betting without these companies paying a massive sports betting license fee.
On a three-pack of NFL Picks for Week 5…
Nice bounceback off the oh-fer Week 4.
Week 1: 2-1
Week 2: 3-0
Week 3: 0-3
Week 4: 3-0
Finally got around to testing out the NFL live streaming on the Fanatics sportsbook app. It’s been touted by the company as faster delivery than watching on cable TV or streaming and at least for Bears/Commanders, it sure was.
By my very unscientific timing, the app stream was almost 40 seconds ahead of the Amazon Prime stream. That’s pretty good.
The ability to see the action live right above where you could bet was easy to maneuver. All on the same screen. And at least on wifi, the stream itself was clean.
One issue was the app logging me out for inactivity even while watching the stream. Seems like every 15 minutes if you don’t touch the screen. Mildly annoying.
STEELERS +4.5 VS. RAVENS. (-108, DK). An obvious, obvious spot to bet Mike Tomlin as an underdog. He wins at almost a 65% clip as a dog. He covers at about a 70% clip vs. winning teams. And this from the Action Network - these two teams have played 30 times in the regular season since John Harbaugh took over in Baltimore. Of those, 17 have been decided by three points or less. And when the spread is three or more in these games, the dog is 17-1-3 vs. the number. Baltimore’s injuries are also a factor here. It looks ugly, but the Steelers are the play.
JETS AT BRONCOS UNDER. (43.5, -110 BetMGM). The money and the public are all pumping it in on the over here…we want the under. As far as pace, the Broncos are dead last in neutral situation pace this season. The Jets are 30th. Jets are also 31st in the league in yards per drive. The Broncos are going to struggle on offense here, and the Jets have Zach Wilson at the helm. I think the Jets win here but I love the under.
JORDAN LOVE OVER RUSH YARDS. (11.5, DK, -120) This number seems off. The projections I have seen are all well over this. Love has cleared this total in three of four games this season. And just last week Justin Herbert scampered for 29 yards on 12 carries. You have to wait for Monday and lay -120, but I like this one.
After a 3-0 week, it is once again probably a great spot to #fademut.
Hope you’re able to enjoy the long week. Comments are open for all your takez.
Thanks for reading, listening, and sharing. Good luck with all your bets.
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