Darren Rovell: Why I’m Staying at The Action Network

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Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images. Pictured: Darren Rovell

I’ll be blunt: It’s a great time to be a journalist who is tied to the sports gambling industry.

Sportsbooks are throwing money at us realizing that content as a vehicle for promotions is more effective than just promoting through straight up advertising.

Just a few examples: Penn buying Barstool. The rise of Pat McAfee with FanDuel. PointsBet’s deal with NBC. DraftKings deal with Meadowlark.

Three years ago today, having seen what was happening in my home state of New Jersey, I left ESPN to join The Action Network. While others might not have seen it as clearly as I did, I knew the sports gambling growth that was coming. And I also knew how important data-driven analysis was going to be.

Over the last three years, the latter has been proven out.

Just like those investing in the stock market like to watch CNBC to digest earnings and information before going into a stock, bettors like to make their own decisions based on all that is available.

We became the most downloaded sports betting media app. We struck deals with every major sportsbook and five professional sports leagues. Our combined digital, podcast, video and social audience has seen substantial growth.

All this did not go unrecognized. In May 2021, we were purchased by Better Collective for $240 million, a record for a sports betting media and tech company.

Meanwhile, the amount of content I’ve been able to offer our readers, viewers and listeners has grown immensely. As that content has become effective advertising, sportsbooks have more readily shared their splits, their liabilities and their big bets.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being the conduit for this information and I have loved providing that data in all formats at the highest levels against the background of what is frankly still an overly toutish-type content voice — the whole “I like this team or that team” based on a whim or an emotion.

Over the past couple months, as my original deal with The Action Network was coming to a close, I was confronted with the choice of whether to return or to take my brand to one of those cushy sportsbook deals.

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When it came down to it, I felt like I really didn’t have a choice.

I still wanted to be a journalist, and I didn’t feel I could be one while employed by a sportsbook.

I also didn’t feel like I could do what I do, as effectively as I do it, without my current team.

At The Action Network, I am surrounded by a team that is uniquely talented at executing best-in-class data-driven sports betting content with such aplomb. Combine that with the resources given to us thanks to our acquisition by Better Collective this past year and I felt it would be virtually impossible to build the structure we have here anywhere else.

So, having said that, I’m thrilled to say I’m staying with The Action Network.

You can count on me to continue to tell you what’s happening at the sportsbooks, to report the big bets and the bettors making them and to keep you updated on anything topical that could count as gambling these days from sports memorabilia to NFTs.

The trajectory of growth in this industry over the last three years has been incredible and I’m thrilled to be a part of this ride.

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