ARLINGTON, Va. — With corporate underwriters vanishing and its government funding under constant threat, PBS is hoping that introducing sports betting to its pledge drives will help keep its bookkeepers happy.
“We already have the infrastructure to handle the incoming calls, accept payments, and guilt the reluctant into paying up,” said PBS’s senior vice president of pledge strategy John Wilson. “Taking bets on football during pledge drives is a natural outgrowth of our commitment to keeping citizens informed on events and cultural touchstones.”
The new campaign will kick off on October 8 to coincide with the first of a two-part documentary series called “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,” presented by PBS’s “Frontline” and, until recently, ESPN. The sports network suddenly decided to officially cut ties with the critical documentary after it came under pressure from the NFL, which feeds ESPN its popular football programming. The league just agreed to a $765 million settlement over a lawsuit filed by over 4,000 former players who claim that the league concealed known concussion risks for years.
“We at PBS are willing to bet that neither the journalism nor our bottom line will suffer as a result of the NFL’s offense, so long as viewers like you call with your continued pledge of support and point spread,” said Wilson. “Bookies are standing by with complimentary canvas gym bags as a small token of our thanks.”