guide to betting on tv showsHand in hand with the recent growth of TV based talent shows such as The X Factor, The Voice and Strictly Come Dancing comes a host of betting opportunities, and these are now important markets for the bookmakers and are taken very seriously.

If you think you have an eye for talent, and some sixth sense when it comes to gauging popular opinion then you might be in a good position to profit from television betting….

What Types Of Television Shows?

The aforementioned ‘talent’ shows tend to be the most popular for the formation of betting markets. These are dominated by the most popular 3 or 4 shows through the year, and these TV spectacles also feed into other novelty markets such as who will have the Christmas Number One single. Only a few weeks into The X factor starting and we see the eventual winner is the favourite for the Christmas Number One with odds of Evens!

The talent shows have markets around the individual acts winning outright, and it is here that the most value can be found, but they also have shorte odds markets available where there are less possible outcomes such as who will be the winning judge on The Voice (can only be 1 of 4 possible winners).

Being able to spot a real talent very early on can put you into a great betting position. A close friend of ours identified Tyler James as having a great chance after the 2nd show of The Voice 2012, and promptly backed him at 66/1! At the time there were a number of real powerhouse singers at much shorter odds so Tyler was a real outsider. He came second!

In 2013 we managed to back Leah McFall after her performance in the head to head battle, and got her at 14/1 from Paddy Power. She blew the field away over the following weeks and became the odds on favourite even before the night of the final. Unbelievably she came second, but through Betfair we managed to lay the bet off at odds on so we had definite decent profit whether she won or lost.

That is where the real opportunity lies – spot the talent early, back them at double figure odds (10/1 or more) and then wait until they fulfil the promise you saw and are available to lay at much lower odds than you backed them at. If you really do have an eye for talent then you should be able to enjoy the final couple of weeks of the show knowing that you will be in profit whatever the outcome.

What Are The Odds Like?

Well, they’re not bad. As I’ve just highlighted, betting on the outright winner early on in a series can see some decent odds available. The odds where there are only a handful of possible outcomes are naturally much lower. Here’s some recent examples:

X Factor – a handful of shows into a new series in late September had two joint favourites at 5/1 right the way down to eight contestants at 100/1. Odds for the winning category stood at Girls 6/4, Boys 3/1, Groups 3/1 and Over 25s at 7/2.

Strictly Come Dancing – again, a few shows into a new season had odds available for the outright winner ranging from the favourite at 9/4 right through to the obligatory overweight outsider at 200/1. If you know the show, and know the audience, and know a bit about dancing, you might be confident backing a slight outsider at around 7/1 who shows some promise. Separate markets are also available for the top placed male and female, and the winning gender.

Make sure you shop around to ensure you get the best odds possible before placing your bet. For example, when I did this research I spotted that one contestant was offered by Ladbrokes at 7/1 to win Strictly Come Dancing, but only 11/2 with Coral and Stan James, and 6/1 with William Hill. On the Betfair betting exchange you could back that person at decimal odds of 9.6, which represented the best value, and which would have also given you the opportunity to lay her off if she became a firm favourite and the odds dropped.

“But I Hate Talent Shows!”

If that’s your stance, more power to your elbow. I’m not too keen on them myself really, but profit is profit. If you really can’t bear the thought of watching even a second of these shows then there are other opportunities to place a bet while watching the gogglebox.

Other ‘reality’ shows, such as Big Brother (inc. Celebrity BB), and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, have well-formed betting markets around them, but if they make you wince, you could consider some of the following, if you know your popular culture:

TV Awards – Take the Emmys, for example. Markets are available on categories such as ‘Outstanding Drama Series’, with recent odds such as Game Of Thrones at 8/13 and Mad Men at 13/8. Remember to think like an American when betting on The Emmys (and similar events, such as the Oscars, etc.). UK based awards are also covered around this time, such as the British Soap Awards, the BAFTAs, and the like.

Soap Operas – A major plot or forthcoming spectacle can cause markets to be created, and these can be as pointless as who the father of a character’s child will be, to who will be killed in a major accident, and so on. It’s difficult for me to comment on how feasible these markets are as I don’t watch them, but if you soak them up and are normally in tune with the writers then give it a whirl.

BBC Sports Personality Of The Year – Where sport and TV betting collide. This is a difficult market to work with, usually, unless you can get on early. After winning Wimbledon in 2013, Andy Murray became the clear odds on favourite at 1/50. The next candidate was Mo Farah at 16/1. Bradley Wiggins was the clear odds on favourite in 2012 after winning the Tour De France and his Olympic events. Unless you can confidently state that the bookmakers have got this wrong, your only choice would be to bet £50 to win £1 on Andy Murray. To combat this ‘one-horse’ race there are markets set up that allow you to bet without the favourite being included, such as looking to second place. In this market Mo Farah was the odds on favourite at 8/11, followed by Chris Froome at 13/8, and Justin Rose at 12/1. Try and get on early, or leave it alone, or maybe lay the clear favourite for a few pounds on Betfair – your liability will only be a few pence and it means you’re in profit if the second favourite defies the betting and wins.

Like most other novelty bets, TV show betting should be seen as a bit of fun, unless you can back a potential finalist very early on in one of the talent shows.