Extra Innings - Vol. 27

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to this week's edition of Extra Innings. This week is heavy on betting as bookmakers realize that home-field advantage may be a thing of the past. Some leagues work to add more betting partnerships while politicians in Spain force La Liga to distance themselves from betting partners. Also, the NBA is gearing up to start its next season as the MLB digs into its disagreement with the minor leagues.

Bookmakers Struggle With Value of Homefield With No Fans

Extra Innings has looked at home-field advantage in a few different capacities since the NBA and NHL took their leagues into the bubble. The designated home team in each league won at above a 50% margin, but neither league saw home-field dominance. The NFL is seeing its home teams win at a 51.27% (60-57-1) margin through the first six weeks of the season, which is consistent with the other two leagues’ percentages.

Sportico’s graph shows the home team in the NFL winning significantly less than in previous years. Even without fans, there is some semblance of a home-field advantage as home teams no longer travel and have the familiarity of their home stadium. Bookmakers, on the other hand, have no way of measuring how the lack of fan turnout will affect the odds or over/under number. Oddsmakers must balance the lack of pre-season games, players missing games due to the Coronavirus, and limited practice sessions.

William Hill, a UK-based oddsmaker is the first sportsbook to publicly announce that the unpredictable nature of games has affected their bottom line. Experts say that sports that have a large point spread (i.e. football) will be less affected by the lack of home-field advantage because there is a buffer in that larger points spread.

In general, college basketball doesn’t have the luxury of a large point spread as 45.43% of games (21,882 of 48,152) since 2006 ended with a single-digit scoring margin. Games ending with a 1-9 point margin were statistically similar, ranging between 4.07% to 6.15%. This variance makes it difficult for a bookmaker to predict the spread, especially when considering empty arenas, youthful players, and an inconsistent schedule.

NBA In Financial Trouble With Delayed Start to Season

The NBA and the Players Association have agreed to start the 2020-2021 season on December 22nd. The league will start the season before the Christmas holiday to avoid a potential $1 billion loss of advertising and media deals. The NBA made this deal to avoid additional losses as it expects to lose another $4 billion of fan revenue this season.

The league will be able to schedule 72-games ending before the 2021 Olympics in July. Additionally, the league is working to fill arena suites by 25-50% capacity for all games. The NBA will attempt to host fans at indoor venues, a first attempt during the pandemic.

Notable Information From the Sports World:

  • NBA: In an effort to make up lost revenue, the NBA is looking to expand its sponsorship portfolio. The NBA will ease restrictions on alcohol, as well as casino and sports betting sponsorship in an effort to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars.

  • MLB: Major and Minor League Baseball are each continuing to figure out how to operate next summer. MiLB president Pat O’Conner stepped down this fall, slowing negotiations. Concerns that the virus may impact next season still persist, however, the MLB hopes that the minor league season can happen in order to continue developing its players.

  • La Liga: As US leagues work to integrate gambling into their revenue stream, La Liga, in Spain, is working to ban gambling sponsorship after the 2020-2021 season. This ban will cover all sports in Spain and affect many of the teams in the top domestic soccer league. Seven La Liga teams have shirt sponsorship deals in conjunction with betting partners.

  • Disney: Disney appears to be gearing up to purchase the rights to “Sunday Night Football.” This will likely cost the company over $1 billion for rights but could bring the Super Bowl back to a Disney channel as early as the 2022-2023 season.


Nick Goss