WME Promotes Josh Levy to Partner, Unscripted Agent Talks Future of Sports Betting and Mega Media Rights Deals (EXCLUSIVE)

WME has promoted sports media agent Josh Levy to partner in the non-scripted TV department.

In his elevated role, Levy will continue representing talent in roles such as studio host, reporter, play-by-play commentator, analyst and more.

Levy has worked with current and retired athletes as they find media opportunities off the field hosting, launching production companies, in sports broadcasting, and other endeavors.

Based on New York City, Levy has been with WME for 12 years, joining the agency after graduating from Syracuse University.

Here, Levy speaks with Variety about the sports betting industry and mega media rights deals for sports.

What is the future of sports betting?

The sports betting space is one that we as a company were really smart to be mindful of the acceleration in it. Just knowing that PASPA was going to be repealed and that widespread legalization was going to happen. I remember 7-8 years ago, going into one of my bosses offices and telling him, we have to be in this space from a talent perspective, this is what networks are going to want one day and fast forward, here we are. Now ESPN and CBS and Fox and NBC, it’s not like all their programs are filled 100% only in all gambling analysts and pundits in that space, but it’s something that they all have now because it’s impossible to ignore. It’s such a way of consumption now from a fantasy perspective, from a betting perspective, it’s no longer the elephant in the room, it’s part of the room. The biggest thing that we can do is now these companies, FanDuel, DraftKings, the MGM Caesars, these are our partners, we’re supplying talent to them. In due time, we’re going to be supplying, hopefully, content to them. They’re going to become media companies in their own right, not just sports betting companies. For a lot of them, I think that’s their ultimate goal because they’re waging a war right now. There’s so many sports betting companies and I don’t know if it’s a year from now, three years from now, there’s going to be some consolidation, and I think the ones who can best weave the media content narratives into their everyday ethos are the ones who are going to win. The ones that can seamlessly make sports betting and content one in the same, those are going to be the ones that win in the end.

What are your thoughts on how Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” deal is going, and what it means for what other streamers are looking to do in the sports media rights space and how traditional broadcasters will react?

It depends on who you ask, but I personally think it’s been really successful. The ratings, naturally, aren’t what they had been in the past when it was on a broadcast network, but I would have to think Amazon knew that going in, that they weren’t going to retain 100% of the audience going from broadcast to streaming. To make an analogy, they’re at the top of the first inning. As more and more sports media rights come up and streaming becomes a part of those deals, the pendulum is going to shift. Everyone has been talking for so long, is cable TV dead? Is it going to go? I don’t think it’s going anywhere for the near future, I think the acceleration to streaming and cord cutting is certainly happening. So you’re seeing the NFL, the perfect example, their main partners are all on linear cable. “Football Night in America’”with NBC, and Fox, and CBS, ESPN for “Monday Night Football.” But this is one part of it. I don’t think they can ignore the streaming element anymore because it’s just so a part of the fabric of how we consume television. We come home and we turn on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video or Hulu, just like back in the day, when you just turned on Channel 2 — that’s what the younger demographic does. From that standpoint, I think Amazon would probably be thrilled to be starting business with the NFL, the biggest sports league on the planet. And a lot of its due to matchups and other things like that, in terms of ratings, but I think they’re thrilled that they’ve started this business in sports and it’s only going to continue. 

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