With the new year already started, many sportsbooks have kicked off their football predictions for the coming year. And while many consider the English Premier League (EL) to be the most popular football league in the world, with a rich history of great players and thrilling matches, it’s clear that the betting markets have other ideas. For instance, over the first three months of this year, the Championship (the second tier of English football) provided the best odds for high-quality bookmakers. But, on the whole, the NBA saw the biggest swings – with lots of action going on in the second half of the year.
The Evolution of English Football
Overall, the English Premier League has seen an increase in betting interest this year, with action going on in over 99% of matches. The 2017-18 season was the most watched football season in history, with a record-breaking 137.2 million average viewers tuning in to watch the big games. The figure represented an increase of 2.2 million from the previous season, while the number of games grew from 153 to 158. The popularity of the English game is such that major tournaments are regularly staged there, with the World Cup being the biggest annual sporting event. And you might be tempted to believe that all these matches have made the game more exciting. Well, you would be right. Over the last decade, the Premier League has become one of the most competitive leagues in the world, with massive budget cuts and increased player movement making the competition fiercer than ever. That’s not to mention the introduction of fantasy football, which has become a popular way of keeping up with the game as well as indulging in some light betting. If you want to make the most of your money on the side, why not try and forecast the Premier League winners and bookies’ favourites, or even take a punt on a team you believe in?
The competition has always been strong, but the financial backing of the big clubs as well as the introduction of big-name players from abroad has turned the Premier League into one of the most promising leagues in world football. For fans of the Spanish game, you have La Liga, which is also one of the most popular football leagues in the world. And if you’re a fan of French football, you can follow the Ligue 1, which is widely considered to be the most attractive and toughest league in Europe. What are your favourite sports to bet on?
As well as the increased betting interest in the English Premier League, there’s also been a rise in the popularity of other sports, such as American football, NBA basketball and baseball. Perhaps surprisingly, some sports have declined in popularity, with the most notable example being cricket. The introduction of new betting markets such as eSports and fantasy football has alleviated some of the problem, but perhaps not all. Despite the 2018 Winter Olympics bringing a massive influx of interest in ice hockey, that sport actually saw a decline in popularity, with just 16.4 million tuned into watch the Ice Hockey World Cup in 2018 – the least-watched international tournament in history. And last but not least, people are less likely to bet on greyhound racing now, too, with the sport having declined in popularity by 12% since 2009. So if you want to make the most of your money on the side, why not try and forecast the winners of the big races?
The Evolution of the NBA
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the much smaller NBA. Despite having some of the most recognizable basketball players in the world, including Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Steph Curry, the league has declined in popularity in comparison to other sports. In fact, between 2004 and 2014, the odds of winning the NBA championship more than doubled from 12.8 to 29.2. Yet, at the same time, the game grew increasingly more popular internationally, with viewership increasing by 55% and 42% in the United States and Canada, respectively. But even then, the championship odds remained consistently high, with an increase of 22.1% in 2014 only marginally changing the betting landscape.
While the overall trend is down, there is still plenty of interest in the NBA world. The next NBA season will have a massive impact, particularly in the Asian market, where audiences could spike up by as much as 40%. This is mainly thanks to the expanding popularity of the NBA in China.
Even if you’re not interested in the NBA, it’s worth keeping an eye on the league, as it is one of the most competitive sporting sets in the world. Games between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks were some of the most anticipated matchups in basketball last year, with the rivalry being dubbed the Battle of The Decades. That’s probably not something you’d get bored of, is it?
Last but not least, we have the MLB, the biggest sport in the United States. Once again, the odds of winning the World Series doubled between 2009 and 2014, rising from 19.8 to 40.2. Yet, despite the overall trend being upwards, the betting markets have become less volatile, with the regular season now acting as the most popular time to place bets.
What Does It All Mean?
So, what does all this mean? Well, it means that, as the year unfolds, the sports betting markets are going to be very interesting to follow. With more and more people taking an interest in betting, it’s likely that the lines will constantly be in motion, with lots of winners and losers. This is going to make it very exciting – and profitable – for sports fans who want to place a bet. Don’t forget, after all, winning is great but spending your money is even better. And who doesn’t like a cheap thrill now and again?