Starting with Friday’s showdown between the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies, Yahoo talent will be featured on the NBABet Stream, a weekly alternate broadcast on NBA League Pass. The Verizon unit will also start distributing the feed as part of its own League Pass platforms.
The NBA has been doing these alternate feeds since last August, coinciding with the restart of its pandemic-disrupted season. Starting Friday, Yahoo’s Jared Quay and sports bettor/analyst Preston Johnson will be hosting the streams, doing loose play-by-play while discussing BetMGM odds, in-game stats and betting trends.
“The technological constraints have been removed from having to serve one-size-fits-all media experiences,” Yahoo Sports general manager Geoff Reiss said in an interview. “To do a telecast of an NBA game for people who are interested in that game through a betting lens is a natural extension of how the category is going to mature.”
Now that the technological barrier is gone, the biggest hurdle for alternate streams is restrictions on the rights themselves. In this case, the interconnected relationship between the NBA, Yahoo and gambling operator BetMGM made these broadcasts possible. Yahoo and the NBA, both BetMGM partners, already work together on Yahoo’s season-long fantasy basketball product and have a distribution agreement for League Pass.
It’s also just a small part of Yahoo’s efforts to become a go-to platform for gamblers. As legal sports betting continues to spread across the country, sportsbooks are partnering with popular media companies as a way to attract new customers.
Yahoo has been working with BetMGM, the 50-50 joint venture between MGM Resorts and Entain, as its sports betting partner since 2019. As an example of their integration, Yahoo allows fantasy customers in states where BetMGM operates to build prop bets based off the customers’ rosters, without leaving the Yahoo platform. It also utilizes its relationship with NBA League Pass—a recent promotion gave new BetMGM customers a free season of League Pass for placing $200 in wagers.
“Our special sauce is the perfect merging together of utilities, content and partnerships at an amazing scale, which will allow us a unique position in the industry to accelerate our growth as the category continues to expand,” said Joanna Lambert, Verizon Media’s head of consumer. “This is one more way for us to connect our audiences to the things they love.”
Yahoo Sports referred over 1 million people from its platform to the BetMGM registration portal last year, according to someone familiar with the numbers. Not all of those people ended up depositing money. Yahoo has referred more users to BetMGM’s platform than any of the sportsbook’s other 100-plus partners and affiliates.
It’s unclear exactly how Yahoo shares in the upside of referring customers to BetMGM. Some affiliate programs pay a set fee for each new depositor, others are structured for that payment to rise depending on how much each bettor plays.
“As we look at the different avenues of growth available to the business, we believe that sports betting will be a major driver of our long-term growth,” Reiss said.