Legal sports betting could add a serious boost to the National Football League’s TV ratings, according to new Nielsen data.
On Thursday, the American Gaming Association (AGA) released the findings of an AGA-commissioned Nielsen Sports survey into the relationship between NFL regular season viewing and sports betting. The survey queried 1,000 US adults along with 500 “pre-qualified NFL bettors” to ensure proper samples.
Nielsen found that bettors watched 19 more NFL games during the 2015 season than non-bettors. Sports bettors made up one-quarter of the total 2015 regular season audience but claimed 47% of all minutes viewed. On average, bettors watched 11 more minutes per game than non-bettors.
Nielsen estimated that the advent of legal sports betting in the US would raise the number of NFL regular season viewers who bet on sports to jump from 40m to 57m. Legal sports betting would result in bettors comprising 36% of the NFL viewing audience and consuming 56% of all minutes viewed.
Nielsen said sports bettors also watched more TV programming for longer periods than non-bettors, even when games aren’t on. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they were more likely to discuss (read: promote) a game via social media if they had money riding on the outcome.
NFL bettors were also more likely to be classed as ‘avid’ sports fans, the most coveted designation for pro leagues and networks. Around 44% of bettors considered themselves avid sports fans compared to just 10% of non-bettors.
The NFL is an active promoter of daily fantasy sports betting yet Nielsen’s numbers show that actual wagering on NFL games was three times as popular as DFS. Taking the month of December as an example, 73% of bettors placed real-money wagers, 46% entered a football pool, 32% played season-long fantasy and 21% played DFS.
The AGA recently hired Erik Balsbaugh as its new VP of public affairs. Balsbaugh is a five-year veteran of the Dewey Square Group, a lobbying firm with experience in promoting the interests of gaming clients. Part of Balsbaugh’s new job will be advancing the AGA’s push to change federal sports betting law.