Despite roadblocks in legalized sports betting in Massachusetts, the New England Sports Network (NESN) is diving into sports wagering.
NESN is canceling two daily news programs, “NESN After Hours” and “NESN Sports Update,” with plans to replace them with sports gambling content.
This comes as Massachusetts examines how to approach the sports betting issue. Despite support from a number of politicians and officials, a 2021 bill failed to advance out of the Senate. Cries to legalize sports betting have grown louder, especially as major sporting events such as the Super Bowl have come and gone.
What’s in NESN’s new gambling content?
While the network has not released specific information regarding new programming, NESN has confirmed that sports betting content will be in the mix.
“We will be sharing updates and additions to our content offerings as they become available,” an NESN spokesperson said. “But certainly, sports betting content and short-form digital content will be top priorities as we look to continue to deliver programming that meets the needs of our audience.”
However, one possible program addition to the mix would feature Sam Panayotovich, a current betting analyst for NESN.
Consumer preference drives programming content changes
A NESN spokesperson made a statement regarding the upcoming program adjustments and the reason for more sports betting content.
“Changing consumer preferences and content consumption habits,” the spokesperson said, “necessitates a shift in how we’re deploying our resources and the content we’re delivering to best serve our viewers.”
It should be no surprise that viewers in New England are showing an increased interest in sports betting. This year’s Super Bowl alone brought in millions of dollars in sports bets throughout the region.
Since the Supreme Court ruled in May 2018 to lift the federal ban on sports wagering, more than 30 states have passed legislation to legalize it.
Many of those states are in New England and are Massachusetts neighbors, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.
MA lawmakers and businesses have pushed unsuccessfully for sports wagering legislation. Massachusetts residents have begun crossing state lines to place sports bets with sportsbooks in neighboring states.
The ever-growing popularity of sports betting in New England calls for more content and programming related to sports gambling.
Will programming changes impact NESN employees?
NESN recently informed current contributors of the programming changes. Some jobs will be lost behind the scenes, but many employees will be reassigned to the new production teams.
There has been some recent turnover in on-air personalities for NESN. It’s unclear whether those changes result from the new content direction.
For example, Matt Chatham, former Patriots linebacker, announced that he would no longer provide sports analysis for NESN.
“NESN Sports Update” and “NESN After Hours” aired for the last time on March 11.