BBC Football Coverage Contains 66% More Gambling Ads than Sky

By Dale Shelabarger, Updated:

BBC broadcasts of Match of the Day show 66% more gambling ads than Sky Sports, according to a study by anthropologists at Goldsmiths University.

In an unexpected conclusion, 270 minutes (3 full episodes) of the BBC’s flagship football highlights programme included 123.45 minutes of gambling, alcohol and fast food advertising.

Comparatively, 480 minutes of live football broadcasts on Sky (3 matches) contained just 132.40 minutes of “risky product marketing.”

Though the BBC is a public service broadcaster, funded by a national licence fee rather than paid gambling ads, the study found that Match of the Day broadcasts featured more “instances” of advertising.

The Goldsmiths study defined “instances” of advertising as:

– Fixed Advertising Signage (eg. the board advertising around the perimeter of the football field).

– Dynamic Advertising (eg. digital, video or scrolling advertising in the stands, on billboards, or the in-stadium large screens).

– Commercial Break Advertising (eg. produced television advertisements aired during designated advertisement breaks).

– Integrated Advertising (eg. live stadium announcements, ‘pop-up’ displays on screen, during in-play commentary).

– Team Sponsorship (eg. kit sponsorship)

inside casino instances of gambling advertising football

Figure 1: Data from Goldsmiths Study

Due to highlights driven nature of MOTD, the broadcasts featured more football stadia and therefore a greater variety of perimeter signage, digital scrolling and billboards, team kits, and static advertising behind post-match interviews.

Online casinos and sport betting websites made up the majority of gambling advertising on both live broadcasts and highlights packages. Billboards were the most common medium.

The IGRG (Industry Group for Responsible Gambling) formed an advertising body back in 2007 to introduce socially responsible messaging and regulations in gambling advertisement.

These regulations were updated in 2015 to include a 9PM watershed for all gambling ads except for bingo and sportsbook during the transmission of a sports event.

This, in particular, is being reviewed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as a part of their Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures.

However, many of these “instances” of gambling advertising, especially on the BBC, slip through the regulatory net.

According to the study, “exposure to risky product advertising has become part of the experience of watching sport without the voluntary restrictions which apply to produced commercials.”

Rebecca Cassidy, a professor of anthropology at Goldsmiths, and an author of the study, told Gambling Compliance that, “because it’s being sneaked into Match of the Day, nobody’s really thinking about it.”

“We don’t know how advertising on public-service television is understood or experienced by people… To focus all of our concern on broadcast commercials is short-sighted.”

Results from the government’s investigation into the suitability of gambling advertisement regulations are expected later in the year.


Brand Duration
Bet365 21:25 10:22
Dafabet 10:00
SportPesa 08:37
Mansion 08:31
BetEast 05:41
Bet Victor 05:18
Betway 05:16
William Hill 04:57


Brand Duration
Betway 31:43
Mansion 24:47
Bet365 07:24
William Hill 06:50
Bet Victor 05:33 05:15
Fun88 03:46

Figures 2 & 3: Most frequently advertised gambling brands during the broadcasts

IC Notes: The study concludes its findings with the intentionally chilling: ‘It is very difficult for researchers… to comprehend the new ways in which sport and gambling are intertwined, including ‘embedded advertising which is very difficult to distinguish from content, if such a distinction is even meaningful any longer.’

The thought of the unconscious effects of advertising when we are not cognizant can be an unnerving thought, in that sort of dystopian, subliminal way.

The study is sometimes quite transparent in its disquiet, and, frankly, disdain for the industry. However, it does raise a lot of important conversation points. For example, it is bordering on farcical that gambling businesses are able to get more ads airtime on the BBC than Sky Sports.

Are sports and gambling now too intertwined? Tweet @Inside_Casino_ and let us know what you think.

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