You can bet on it
SOME people really will bet on anything and television is no exception. Bookmakers now routinely offer odds on TV ratings winners and on the outcomes of big TV events. No, I’m not talking about the footy. In the lead-up to this year’s Logies, online betting sites Sportsbet and Tom Waterhouse were giving odds-on for the possible winners of each category in Australian TV’s big awards night. More baffling to me than the fact people would actually put money on something like that, is that both sites foreshadowed the result.
Practically every TV commentator worth listening to was predicting a neckand-neck battle between Packed To The Rafters star Rebecca Gibney and The Circle host Chrissie Swan ( both pictured) for the Gold Logie. Both betting sites were offering odds of around $ 1.80 for Gibney to win, with Swan running at $ 8 as the outside chance.
But the day before the big night the odds shifted unexpectedly. Odds for Gibney at Tom Waterhouse blew out to $ 2.25 and Swan went to $ 9, while at Sportsbet Gibney shortened slightly to $ 1.75 and Swan’s odds came in to $ 7 from $ 9.50. While this was happening, Waterhouse shortened Today host Karl Stefanovic’s odds from $ 8 to $ 3 and Sportsbet shortened from $ 7 to $ 4.
Stefanovic, of course, went on to win the gold in a result few people expected, apart from online punters, apparently.
Both betting sites are also taking bets on which contestants will be eliminated from Dancing With the Stars each week and are already predicting the final winner.
Waterhouse, who was a contestant on the show in season five, predicted surfer Mark Occhilupo would be the first contestant eliminated after his atrocious first-week performance, while Sportsbet punters were favouring cricketer Nathan Bracken. Sportsbet nailed it. The following week, Waterhouse correctly predicted golfer Jan Stephenson would be the second contestant eliminated.
In case you’re wondering, both sites favour French chef Manu Feildel to take home the mirror ball trophy.
Bookmakers are also taking bets on which shows will top the ratings each week, and offered odds for who would win the Eurovision Song Contest.
All this at a time when people are encouraged to send SMS votes for their favourite contestants and join Twitter conversations about live shows, so perhaps one way to look at the TV betting phenomenon is as another aspect of viewer interaction.
Personally, I’d rather not have any kind of financial stake in anything I watch on TV. Stressing out and haemorrhaging cash doesn’t sound terribly relaxing to me.