You can bet on it

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - TIM MARTAIN

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.

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