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FanDuel TV has many reasons to celebrate after its first anniversary

LOS ANGELES (AP) — FanDuel TV has embraced the growth of legal sports betting across the U.S. in its first year. It has also remained true to its roots as the channel for horse racing.

FanDuel TV marked its first anniversary on Sept. 1 after being rebranded from TVG. The channel has added studio programming devoted to the NFL and NBA but has remained predominantly involved in horse racing.

“I think audiences have responded quite well to the rebrand and the expanded content. I’m also excited about our more multiplatform approach with digital media,” said Mike Raffensperger, FanDuel’s chief commercial officer.

While the channel remains a part of most cable, satellite and streaming services, FanDuel also has a live stream are also available on its sportsbook app. FanDuel is also on the verge of launching a free, ad-supported channel on Pluto TV, Roku, and Tubi.

The expanded distribution has helped FanDuel TV’s audience to grow 31% over the past 12 months.

One reason for the increase has been the addition of studio shows hosted by Kay Adams and Shams Charania. The “Up and Adams” show celebrated its first anniversary on Sept. 6, geared mainly toward the NFL. Adams joined FanDuel TV after six years at NFL Network as a cohost on “Good Morning Football."

Adams said she enjoyed her time at NFL Network but said she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do her own show and partner with FanDuel.

"It was about collaboration and sort of widening what I’m able to do. I couldn’t say no,” she said. “To also bring my show into basketball and horse racing and merge those worlds made it really attractive and a perfect decision I’m happy with a year later.”

Charania, who covers the NBA for The Athletic, hosts the basketball-focused “Run It Back,” which will return in October. FanDuel TV also launched two football shows this week, with ”The Ringer" featuring Sal Iacono, best known as Cousin Sal from his collaborations with his cousin, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel.

The addition of more programming comes at a time when more companies are trying to make inroads into sports gambling. ESPN continues to add programming and agreed to a licensing deal last month with Penn Entertainment to create an ESPN BET sportsbook.

VSIN has distribution deals with YouTube TV and has some of its shows on regional sports networks.

Even though FanDuel TV has started to show more sports — including MMA, pickleball and international basketball — it still has a heavy involvement in horse racing. It recently acquired the rights to tracks owned by Churchill Downs and extended a partnership with the Breeders’ Cup.

Andrew Moore, FanDuel’s general manager of racing, also pointed to more informative graphics and trying to find new ways to expand the sport to a new set of viewers.

Since the rebranding, FanDuel TV has seen a 22% increase in the streaming of horse races.

However, the channel is still doing a balancing act between making sure it serves its longtime viewers from TVG and catering to a new group that wants sports betting information along with horse racing.

“It’s no secret that some customers have not liked the changes. But I think if you were to go and look at what the network looked like when we made the initial brand change last year, and what it looks like now, we’ve listened a lot,” Moore said. “The bottom crawl (with sports odds) is a lot smaller now than it used to be. We are getting more acute at balancing all the time as we make changes and evolve."

In terms of FanDuel’s business, the balancing act is working. This year, more than 600,000 of FanDuel’s sportsbook app users have also bet on horse racing. There was also a 20% increase in handle during the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

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AP sports: https://apnews.com/sports