Michigan Sportsbooks, And Jamie Foxx, Invade Pistons Broadcast

Posted on February 3, 2021

It would be impossible to be a Detroit sports fan and not be aware of the recent launch of Michigan online sports betting. It’s everywhere. Take Tuesday night, when the Detroit Pistons took on the Utah Jazz for an otherwise nondescript game.

I sat down to watch the 117-105 Utah victory and kept tabs on how many times online sportsbooks shouted their existence to the viewer. I won’t say here who picked up the most mentions. You’ll have to read on for that detail.

Keep in mind, this is a game in Utah, where sports betting is not legal. Had we tracked visuals from a home game at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena, more visuals on the court and digital courtside banners would’ve given DraftKings, Parx Casino, and PointsBet even more attention.

As it was, there was plenty of online sports betting exposure to go around. So while watching the game, I tracked the ads, the TV spots, and the sportsbook mentions, with the occasional comment on the game (which did not go well).

Michigan online sportsbooks and Detroit Pistons games

First off, it’s about to get worse, as the actual channel, Fox Sports Detroit, is about to become Bally’s Sports.

The flagship network for the Pistons, Red Wings, and Tigers will have gambling naming rights attached constantly, likely with a logo on the top right of the screen, how FSD is noted currently.

But let’s dive into the game, shall we?

BetMGM + Jamie Foxx + Pistons down 13 points

10:16 p.m.: At the game’s first commercial break, and after the Pistons starters fell down early as is their custom, Hollywood megastar Jamie Foxx made his debut for the night.

“You want to make every game interesting?” Foxx asked to open the familiar BetMGM ad. “Put some skin in the game.”

Well, I’m already up this late for a West Coast game. And I guess a Michigan sports fan might ponder: Why not have some action if I’m going to stay up and watch my team continue to lose?

10:37: During a Detroit free-throw attempt, with the Pistons down 13 points, famed legendary TV announcer George Blaha throws it to an inset box during the live broadcast: “Now a message from FanDuel Sportsbook,” he says.

Then, a young woman informs viewers they can now live bet on any NBA game.

“Head over to FanDuel Sportsbook,” she instructs.

The free throw didn’t help the Pistons much.

FanDuel can’t say ‘Super Bowl’?

10:39: During another commercial break, FanDuel rolls out one of its newer advertisements leading up to the Super Bowl. It features a red-haired, bearded man who has a buzzer go off every time he apparently says “Super Bowl.”

Sportsbooks can’t actually say the term while advertising, so everyone is using terms like “The Big Game” in the lead-up to Sunday.

I actually appreciate an ad like this poking at the absurdity of it all. It’s the Super Bowl; no one calls it the big game. The man in the ad promotes FanDuel’s 55:1 odds promotion for new users for the Super Bowl (insert buzzer noise).

The camera pans out to reveal the man is holding a promotional sign over his pelvis and makes a joke about things are larger on camera, blah blah blah.

I no longer appreciate the ad.

10:44: During gameplay, the BetMGM banner comes across the bottom of the screen for about 30 seconds. This is one of the newer ad placements for games with other non-sportsbook brands also taking this spot throughout the broadcast.

10:46: Jamie Foxx during a break again: “You want to make every game interesting?” (Kind of.) “Put some skin in the game.” (Maybe.)

BetRivers gets a big shoutout at halftime

11:14: It’s halftime. The Pistons are down by 23 (not shocking). And also not shocking, Willie Beamen asks me again if I want to make it interesting at BetMGM.

11:16: During the halftime show, it’s revealed that BetRivers has the naming right for the first half stats. If you’re a Pistons fan poring over the ugly details on this night, maybe that’s not exactly the brand association you want. It’s valuable TV real estate nonetheless.

11:19: Later in the halftime show, it’s time for the FanDuel Sportsbook Look Around The League. Host Johnny Kane details the big night for Fred VanVleet in Toronto with the FanDuel logo back up on my screen.

11:20: FanDuel has another Super Bowl ad, this time not with the red-haired man. The generic ad also touts the Sportsbook’s 55-to-1 promotion. I kinda miss the red-haired man now.

11:37: Another short FanDuel ad details the 55-to-1 promotion. The score now for mentions is FanDuel 5, BetMGM 4, BetRivers 1.

Where’s DraftKings, you ask? I have no idea, but they do have a deal with the Pistons, too.

11:39: Jamie Foxx shows up once again, the identical ad in the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. You know it by now. It’s the King of Sportsbooks, he says. This is the fourth time this ad has aired since tip-off and the fifth BetMGM mention.

Overkill? Maybe. Sometimes the same ad will pop up repeatedly during a TV show or broadcast so this is not a new thing.

I do have the ad memorized and the music is stuck in my head.

Pistons comeback fails, but BetMGM wins

11:57: FanDuel’s red-haired man is back and FanDuel retakes the lead over BetMGM, 6-5. The Pistons are catching up to the Jazz. I’m on the edge of my seat… sort of.

12:02 a.m.: We are now officially into Wednesday, and the Pistons are actually tightening the game up late in Salt Lake City. Meanwhile, it’s just as dramatic on the sportsbook count. Jamie Foxx again! BetMGM ties it up!

12:30: As the game nears its end and the Pistons comeback runs out of steam, Jamie Foxx comes back for one more ad. And BetMGM takes the “win” for most mentions during the game.

When all was said and done, sportsbooks were advertised 14 times during the game.

It’s a lot to throw at viewers during a TV show, let alone during a Pistons away game in a season that is meh at best.

I can’t imagine how many mentions I’d tally if I watched a Pistons home game.

Matt Schoch Avatar
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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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