MSG Networks Experimenting With Its BetCast Gambling Show

Broadcast provides a wager-centric alternative to traditional play-by-play of NBA games
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The Manningcast last fall had two iconic former NFL quarterbacks offering their expertise, along with celebrity guests on the level of Tom Brady, David Letterman, Snoop Dogg, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — but no gambling talk.

A new MSG Networks show, airing for several Knicks games of late, is called BetCast and has no ex-NBA players and no celebrity guests — but a heavy dose of wagering chatter.

So what do it and the Mannings’ show have in common? They provide a different way of watching a ballgame.

The appeal of the Manningcast, which aired on ESPN 2 for many Monday Night Football games, was obvious. At its best, it offered unique analysis from brothers Peyton and Eli and occasionally surprising observations from the guests. Also, many of the games featured two teams that were not viewers’ primary focus, so there wasn’t a need to hang on the result of every play.

Who will watch BetCast?

For a broadcaster like MSG airing local games, diehard Knicks fans presumably want to stick to the traditional broadcast. But many NBA fans, particularly those under 30, are backers more of individual players like LeBron James or Steph Curry than of local squads such as the Knicks or Nets.

And if such NBA followers like to dabble in gambling as well, then BetCast might be a show for them.

The Manningcast has brothers, while the DraftKings-sponsored BetCast has “bros” — in Wednesday’s telecast, it was hosts Alex Monaco, former Jets safety Erik Coleman, and Sean Little.

Monaco’s opening sentence, for instance, included the word “chillin'” — and there was a reference to the Adam Sandler gambling movie Uncut Gems not two minutes into the game.

And in the pre-game predictions, all three men took the “over” 222.5 total points line — something that three buddies watching a game together would be liable to do.

Let the game — and gambling — begin

One increasingly popular pre-game wager is which team will be the first to score 10 points. It can be an entertaining betting proposition.

The hosts ebbed and flowed as the Charlotte Hornets grabbed a 7-1 lead, only to have the game reach a 9-9 score — “a certified sweat,” as Monaco described it. The Knicks then scored the next basket to settle that score in Monaco’s favor.

Player props were listed on the screen throughout the 2 1/2 hour broadcast, with updates offered at every turn.

And while the gambling element predominated, there was some real-life basketball analysis offered both before and during the game.

One smart note was an explanation of a “PRA” prop, meaning a combined total of a player’s points, rebounds, and assists. But for the most part, the hosts spoke to an audience that presumably knows at least a little bit about gambling.

A change of score leads to high hopes

The show illuminated betting options from in-game odds. With 4:27 left in the second quarter, LaMelo Ball appeared to hit a 3-pointer for a 50-44 Hornets lead.

Host Monaco still had hope for his Knicks and grabbed them at 7/1 odds at that point to rally from six points down to obtain a halftime lead. A couple minutes later in real time, a stoppage in play led to a review showing that Ball had stepped out of bounds before hitting that 3-pointer.

That reverted the score to 47-44, and Monaco looked as if he might luck out on the reversal. Instead, the Hornets held on for a 58-55 advantage at halftime.

Monaco tried again later in the game, getting 10 1/2 points with the Knicks as they trailed. It was somewhat amusing to see the Knicks take the ball with about 10 seconds left, trailing 125-114, and ignore Monaco’s plea for a meaningless shot attempt to possibly save his bet. They dribbled out the clock.

All three men “cashed” with their prediction of over 222.5 points — and all three wound up 3-3 on their six various pre-game bets.

Wednesday marked the fifth and final BetCast for Knicks games this year. It’s not yet clear if the show will return for the 2022-23 season, but MSG Networks tried two broadcasts in early February and then decided to try three more in the last two weeks.

Photo: Brad Penner/USA TODAY


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