ESPN+ on Thursday night aired its first episode of “I’ll Take That Bet” — a partnership between the Worldwide Leader and The Action Network, which focuses on sports wagering and launched in October 2017 with Chad Millman at the helm as Head of Content.
Both SportsBusiness Daily and Awful Announcing nicely break down the larger media context for sports betting programming and what else may be coming from other networks. With this recap of the 17-minute debut episode of “I’ll Take That Bet,” we offer a more granular (but concise) look at how the show is formatted, what’s offered, and what viewers can expect going forward.
The Action Network and ESPN+ Team Up on Sports Betting Content With Debut of ‘I’ll Take That Bet’ Before NBA Finals
Set to air between 5:00 and 6:00 pm ET several times per week exclusively on ESPN+, the show featured Millman alongside former MLB All-Star catcher Paul Lo Duca, a horse racing aficionado who’s now an Action scribe and personality.
This show consisted of two segments: “Take That Bet,” which drove the first 15 minutes of the show and “Side Action” taking it home.
In “Take That Bet,” Millman and Lo Duca go back and forth in a fantasy draft-style format, “selecting” among 10 wagers — prop bets, futures bets and beyond from football to horse racing — from sportsbooks around the world. It seemed design to cover a lot of ground in a familiar format for casual to veteran sports bettors and even viewers who might only play fantasy.
They scooped up selections based on knowledge and familiarity, thus their earlier picks were more confident ones. The topics/wagers weren’t binary choices, necessarily. For example, Lo Doca started off with “Where Does LeBron Play Next Year?” — making the case among other options on LeBron going back to Cleveland (+175).
After watching Game 1 of the NBA Finals and JR Smith’s disastrous mental error at the end of regulation, Lo Doca may want to set that ticket on fire.
Millman selected and discussed:
- Golden State Warriors (-1000) over the Cleveland Cavaliers for the series;
- The 49ers to win the NFC West (+200);
- Cleveland (+12.5) Game 1 in the NBA Finals (winner);
- Klay Thompson NBA Finals MVP (+2500);
- Washington Capitals (-140) in Game 3 of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Finals.
Lo Duca’s other bets were were:
- Mets (+131) over Chicago Cubs (loss);
- Super Bowl match-up will be Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles (+5500);
- Philadelphia Phillies (+144) over Los Angeles Dodgers (win);
- Justify to win the Triple Crown (+120).
In “Side Action,” Millman took the Cavs +7 in the first half of Game 1 while Lo Duca snapped up Golden State at -7. The stakes? Lo Duca’s famed Brooklyn Dodgers jacket, which is now owned by Millman.
From a production standpoint: There were some hiccups in which the two hosts were cut off from time to time, and it sounded to my ear like there was a bit of feedback coming through on the audio side. Also when Lo Duca picked the Mets pick over the Chicago Cubs, the “card” indicated the Reds in the graphics section.
Besides these few minor production glitches, the show overall was very entertaining and a unique approach to a programming sector that is due to see a variety of approaches. As ESPN-er Scott Van Pelt put it, “everyone’s got way more hours than they’ve got good content.”
We’ll be watching to see what else they bring as ‘I’ll Take That Bet” moves along into the summer months (with the FIFA Men’s World Cup coming soon) and then football season.