There was quite the uproar over the college football weekend following Ohio State’s victory over Purdue. A ton of Buckeye fans weren’t able to watch the game. Now, an Ohio lawmaker wants to do something about it.
The Ohio State-Purdue game was aired exclusively on NBC’s Peacock streaming platform. If Ohio State fans didn’t pay for the platform, they couldn’t watch it.
That frustration reached Sen. Bill DeMora (D-Columbus) as well. He wants to sponsor legislation banning Ohio’s public colleges and universities from airing sports events only on streaming platforms.
This sounds like great legislation for football fans. Additionally, gamblers who missed out on live bets at Ohio online sportsbooks would like it as well.
However, that could have a huge impact on other sports. Where does that leave teams from smaller schools?
Calling for a ban on streaming-only college games isn’t as simple as it sounds.
How streaming-only games impact live betting on college sports
Live betting is one of the most interactive features that modern-day sports betting has created. The popularity of online betting only makes it more popular.
Placing bets from your phone while watching games presents a brand new element that bettors appear to thoroughly enjoy.
I would need the world’s largest abacus to explain how many teams compete at public universities across the country. So, I’m not even going to try. Let’s just focus on Ohio.
Most universities aren’t big enough to demand network broadcasts
The Buckeye State has 14 four-year public universities. All of them have several sports teams for both men and women. Most of them can be found as options to bet on across Ohio sportsbooks.
Unfortunately, not all of them are the Ohio State Buckeyes football team. Ohio State games are usually available on local broadcast networks, on ESPN or the Big Ten Network.
But Saturday’s OSU-Purdue game was streamed only on Peacock. Given how popular Ohio State football is, this was a rare occurrence.
In fact, Saturday’s game marked the first time since 1997 that a Buckeyes football game wasn’t shown on linear television. They have a huge fan base and a successful program. As a result, Ohio State football odds to win the Big Ten is just +250 at FanDuel Ohio
But DeMora’s desired legislation could keep gamblers from live betting an Ohio State hockey game this season. Most Buckeye men’s and women’s hockey games will air exclusively on Big Ten-plus, the conference’s streaming service. Some games will only air on Peacock.
DeMora’s proposal would also force these games to be available outside of streaming services. That’s just hockey. What about the countless other sports that aren’t big enough for network television? Those games won’t be watched either.
TV costs would be prohibitive
Or think of the sheer number of televised games that would have to be on traditional television networks. Football, basketball, hockey, baseball, volleyball, wrestling, lacrosse and countless others. All of those games from all of those universities would need to be on TV.
That can’t happen. It would cost TV networks and the universities too much money to pull off.
But if a bill were to go into law with that broad of language, a huge chunk of college games would become unavailable to viewers. This means there would be little to no live betting on Ohio State hockey until the postseason.
Proposed legislation would need some tweaks
It is safe to assume that Sen. DeMora’s proposal is a knee-jerk reaction to what happened with the Ohio State football team. It is more likely that if he were to move forward with sponsoring legislation, he would make it exclusive to college football.
However, that is still pretty broad.
Ohio has 13 public universities with college football teams. Essentially, DeMora is calling for NFL-level TV coverage of the state’s teams. That also seems very unlikely.
A ban on exclusive streaming-only broadcasts for Ohio schools sounds good on paper. However, several tweaks would need to be made to turn this idea into a viable option.
State Sen. DeMora calls out Big Ten
Sen. DeMora says he was not just concerned about the fans who weren’t able to see Saturday’s Ohio State game. He says he was also worried about the impact on bars and restaurants that rely on the ability to show OSU games.
For example, for us sitting at home, paying for a Peacock subscription would cost as little as $5.99 a month. However, for a bar or restaurant to subscribe, they pay a price based on a per-capacity. Meaning a subscription could cost thousands of dollars.
DeMora is calling out the Big Ten and streaming corporations for putting Ohio sports fans in a bind.
“The greed of the Big Ten and multinational streaming corporations is placing an unreasonable burden on Ohio’s small businesses, which rely on their ability to air games,” DeMora said in a press release. “Paying thousands of dollars to air one game is a ridiculous requirement for small businesses. This problem is created wholly by public institutions seeking to make a profit.”
The Big Ten is enjoying a seven-year, $7 billion media deal signed in August 2022. It puts them in a position to air games in front of national audiences on Fox, CBS and NBC for years to come. However, that also means they can air some games exclusively on the network’s streaming services if they want to.