NBC Sports will introduce a new free-to-play prediction game in its signature National Football League property, Sunday Night Football. But the network plans to stay well short of actively discussing gambling during the highly rated program.
The new Sunday Night 7 offers $100,000 in guaranteed weekly prizes during 20 weeks of regular season and playoff competition, amounting to $2 million in total prizes. The weekly game will present seven-question contests, such as which participating quarterback will have more passing yards, with fans playing through a new mobile app NBC Sports developed.
Sunday Night 7 is designed as a fan engagement tool to help foster additional rooting interest in each Sunday Night Football game. The prediction game will begin with the Sept. 8 contest with the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.
“We’ve been doing the predictor app, which is where you’ll find this for the Premier League, Nascar, and golf, and now it’s venturing into the Sunday Night 7 with Sunday Night Football,” said Sam Flood, NBC Sports executive producer.
“We think it would be beneficial to both the fans’ experience and to the stickiness of the broadcast,” Flood said.
Flood, however, does not plan to discuss wagering or odds heavily around the NFL games, despite the rapid advance of legal sports betting around the US since last year’s Supreme Court ruling allowing individual states to introduce that. The network’s programming plans around this topic will be largely contained to showing game odds and over/under lines on tickers at the bottom of the screen.
Fellow NBC Sports executive producer Fred Gaudelli last week similarly said that gambling references would be “somewhat isolated” during the network’s NFL broadcasts.
“We’ll never do a pure gambling segment or element because that’s not what our show is about,” Flood said. “Our show is to be the show of record of what happened every Sunday and give you Monday morning’s headlines on Sunday night.”
Sunday Night Football has been the highest rated programming in US prime-time television, regardless of genre, each of the last eight years.