Which is expanding more rapidly: sports betting access or podcast listening options? They are both areas of exponential growth — and, as you might expect, the intersections are on the rise too. This is the latest article in a recurring series reviewing some of the most noteworthy entries in the increasingly crowded sports gambling podcast space.
The first factor in determining the popularity of a podcast is typically the host (or hosts). People listen because they’re interested in what that central voice has to say or because they dig the chemistry between the two or three people conversing during every episode.
The Ringer Gambling Show takes a different approach, however. The driving forces behind this podcast’s reach can be found in its straightforward name. It’s designed to appeal to fans of The Ringer, the website and podcast network Bill Simmons launched after his ESPN-backed Grantland met its demise. And it’s targeting those with an interest in its subject matter, gambling. Simple as that.
The hosts are not the primary draw. They can’t be. After all, the hosts change from episode to episode.
The one-year anniversary of The Ringer Gambling Show’s debut is approaching, and when this podcast premiered on the eve of the 2021 NFL season, Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis was positioned as its centerpiece. But Sharp has appeared just once, on an April 20 NFL Draft betting pod, in the past six months. (He’s been busy working on his annual football season preview book and hinted on Twitter on Aug. 16 that he’ll be back on The Ringer Gambling Show soon, although his return wasn’t explicitly spelled out.)
So instead, the podcast features a rotating cast of sports-betting-minded characters. And with their varying voices and styles, subscribers presumably absorb some episodes in full and delete others immediately.
A host of hosts
In recent weeks, hosting duties have most frequently fallen upon John Jastremski, Joe House, and Austin Gayle, with new addition Raheem Palmer (formerly of The Action Network) mixed in.
Jastremski stands out as as perfect example of the polarization that can accompany a given host. Plenty of people have gravitated toward listening to podcasts specifically because they present an alternative to the sports-talk-radio style of broadcasting, but “JJ” leans into that style, with his New York accent and attitude instantly calling to mind a millennial Mike Francesa.
If the audience isn’t making the listen-or-delete decision based on the host of a particular episode, that call instead frequently comes down to subject matter. Mixed in among all the recent football talk were an episode on Aug. 18 previewing the Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua boxing rematch, hosted by Palmer and Kevin Clark, and an English Premier League betting preview, hosted by Steve Ceruti and Paul Carr. Don’t care about boxing or soccer? You might be inclined to skip those episodes.
Then again, you may choose to listen in hopes of getting some actionable wagering advice on a sport for which you wouldn’t know where to begin on your own. (As a veteran boxing journalist, I found little of value in the Usyk-Joshua II episode, but a more casual fight fan might have had a different reaction.)
At its core, The Ringer Gambling Show is a touting podcast. It’s not about the gambling industry like the US Bets podcast Gamble On is, nor does it offer much of a peek into the professional bettor’s world like Bet the Process does. The hosts aren’t touts in the offensive, grifting, “buy my best bets!” sense, but the podcast conversation usually centers around the wagers that the hosts find most advisable.
One important note on that front: The podcast is sponsored by FanDuel Casino & Sportsbook, and that’s whose odds are typically cited. This is not the pod to listen to if you’re searching for the best possible prices identified by hosts shopping a variety of books.
The Ringer Gambling Show has a sporadic release schedule, typically dropping between two and four episodes in a given week. (As of publication of this review on a Wednesday morning, there hadn’t been a new episode since the previous Friday.)
The lengths of the episodes vary more widely. Some clock in at under 10 minutes, others at over an hour. The majority tend to settle in the 25-35 minute range — in that sweet spot between “quick hit” and “so long that it’s intimidating to folks with limited available time.”
As with most things Ringer-related, Simmons shows up on occasion to lend his star power and social media following. But for many listeners, the big question entering this NFL season is not how much of professional podcaster Simmons they’ll get, but rather how much of professional sports bettor Sharp they can expect.
Previous reviews in this series: