According to New York Giants co-owner Jonathan Tisch, the legalization of sports wagering has contributed significantly to improved NFL television ratings. He made the observation during an appearance on CNBC’s Power Lunch program, adding that fantasy football is also playing a part in keeping fans at home rather than visiting the stadium to watch games.

Following a two-year spell of declining ratings, TV viewership has seen a rise of 5% on last year’s figures, with 16.7 million fans tuning in to watch their teams. Digital has seen a marked increase, with 49% more viewers than was the case in 2018.

In the program, Tisch commented: “Obviously, if you’re betting on a certain game, you’re going to watch to see what happens and you’re going to watch until the bitter end because there are many games that are won on a field goal with three seconds left.”

Tisch added during the broadcast that the impact of sports betting will continue to grow, hinting that football fans could eventually be allowed to place a bet from inside the stadium. Asked if the New York Giants are preparing as such, he answered: “I think the NFL is getting ready for it.” 

While sports betting may have given NFL ratings a significant boost, other factors including strong match-ups and robust performances have also been cited, specifically by Jay Rosenstein, an adjunct professor at NYU’s Tisch Institute for Global Sport. 

Quoted by CNN Business, he commented: “Its storylines are compelling, most of its major teams are competitive and it has exciting young quarterbacks like Pat Mahomes to complement the national appeal of stars like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. It’s been a great mix.”