South Park, Friends Were Top Non-Sports Shows for Sportsbook Ads

Grant Mitchell
Grant Mitchell
USA Legal Betting


  • The two sitcoms jumped close to or above 400% in sports betting ad impressions
  • FanDuel is the leader in sports betting and was responsible for about 49% of ad impressions
  • The competition for audience retention is increasing at the top of the pyramid

Sports betting and sitcoms go together like butter and popcorn (apparently)—according to MediaPost’s Wayne Friedman, South Park and Friends were among the top non-sports television programs for sportsbook advertisements.

According to the report, sports betting ads on episodes of Friends (first aired in 1994) and South Park (first aired in 1997) spiked 528% and 394% respectively during the first half of 2023. Friends is not releasing new episodes, but it was not specified if ad placements were heavier during reruns or new releases of South Park.

South Park more so than Friends is known for featuring lots of adult content and jokes. In theory, that means it attracts an adult audience, which would match the criteria of would-be sports bettors.

Sitcoms meet sports betting

Even though South Park and Friends are in no shape or form related to sports, they were more popular landing spots for sports betting companies’ ads than the PGA Tour and SportsCenter, which is one of the most popular sports shows on television and averaged 745,000 viewers during the first six months of 2023.

On Patrol: Live was third in sportsbook ad impressions amongst non-sports programs. That too is a more adult-focused show that adds a reality spin to other crime and police shows. Young Sheldon, a follow-up to the popular sitcom Big Bang Theory about character Sheldon Cooper, was fourth.

As popular as landing spots as these shows were, sports betting ads are more regularly looped into sports-themed television. The number of advertisements should be on the rise over the coming months as the NFL and college football make their long-awaited returns, and the NBA as well a couple of months down the line.

FanDuel is the leader in American sports betting. A June report suggested that it was responsible for over 45% of the online market, which is why it comes as no surprise that it also accounted for nearly 49% of ad impressions (an increase of 39.8% in 2022), per

FanDuel’s near-50% mark for ad impressions is well above that of both DraftKings and BetMGM, the two online sports betting companies with the second and third-highest market share. Those two combined generated just over 37% of ad impressions during the same timeline.

Evolution of sportsbooks

FanDuel is the giant in legal sports betting, but despite fleeting interest from smaller companies, the competition amongst the top operators is increasing.

PointsBet and FOX Bet ranked just behind FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM for ad impressions during the first half of 2023—but PointsBet sold its North American assets to Fanatics for $225 million and is currently in the process of transferring its properties, while FOX Bet shuttered its operations in July.

Fanatics, the recipient of PointsBet's catalog, has shown a strong interest in the growth and development in sports betting. It is hoping to launch in as many states as possible before and during the NFL season and has given indications that it is willing to invest heavily in acquiring patronage.

ESPN also partnered with PENN Entertainment to create the soon-to-launch ESPN Bet, which should be a major player sooner than later. This platform will have an inherent advantage because of ESPN’s infrastructure and connections within the sports world.

It remains to be seen how the top companies will respond to the changing landscape of sports betting when football, the biggest draw of the year, is back on television. Companies have shied away from dishing out huge amounts of money to ads and promotions recently, but the competition for audience acquisition is still fierce.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.