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If you’ve spent any time watching CNBC, you know the programming routine: trot out ‘expert’ after ‘expert’ after ‘expert’ to talk about where the market is going today, tomorrow or over the next month. Ask the ‘expert’ for their best stock idea – or what stocks they think will drop – and that’s the segment. Whether it’s Squawk Box or Power Lunch or Street Signs, it’s the same drill.

In many cases, the ‘experts’ CNBC highlights are financial analysts who are discussing their firm’s work analyzing specific stocks or sectors. For instance, one frequent CNBC guest, Dick Bove, is heralded as a bank stock expert. In mid-April, Bove pounded the table declaring “I think Morgan Stanley will allow you to buy that house on the coast of Spain. I think that stock is so cheap right now, it’s overwhelming. It should be bought and bought very aggressively, right now.” Morgan Stanley stock price at the time of Bove’s declaration: $18.22. Morgan Stanley stock price today: $14.25. So, if you followed Bove’s advice, you’re down a cool 28%. And you’re not buying that summer house on the coast of Spain.

But guess what? The results of Bove’s recommendations don’t really matter to the programming executives at CNBC. He still shows up on CNBC over and over and over again.

Beyond talking to financial analysts, CNBC also spends a considerable amount of on-air time interviewing mutual fund managers. For instance, CNBC welcomed Dan Nieman, manager of the Nieman Large Cap Value Fund, to hear his stock recommendations. Now, is Nieman a good mutual fund manager? Well, according to Morningstar, Nieman’s fund underperforms the stock market and investors would be far better off investing a low-cost ETF than Nieman’s fund.

And Dan Nieman isn’t the exception to the rule. By and large, mutual fund managers underperform the stock market and investors are better off avoiding them. Despite this, CNBC will trot out one underperforming mutual fund manager after the next during every business day of the year.

Why?

Well, CNBC is a media company. They need to program a lot of hours and, to do that, they need to talk to a lot of guests. And, frankly, there are only so many good analysts and money managers in the world and not all of them want to go on CBNC ever (let alone regularly). So, CNBC is left booking any fund manager who owns a suit and can speak in complete sentences.

Now imagine you’re Colin Cowherd. Or, better still, imagine you’re Chad Millman. And you have a frequent podcast where you discuss what’s going on in the sports betting world and a weekly ESPN Insider column about sports betting. Well, who do you have on as a guest? Frequently, Millman will host Teddy Covers, a tout. Or Vegas Runner, a tout. Or RJ Bell, CEO of Pregame.com, a tout oepration. Not surprisingly, many of the touts that appear on Millman’s podcast (or in his weekly column) have money-losing track records. So why does Millman have them on his show?

Well, that topic came up in a recent thread over at Beyond the Bets. And, according to Edward Golden from RAS Picks (one of the few tout operations with a long-term winning track record), when he asked Millman why he interviews touts who have proven to lose money for their clients over the long term, Millman responded by pointing out that “there just aren’t enough reputable people in the industry to interview and write about.”

Ain’t that the truth. It’s a sad truth, but it’s the truth nonetheless.

The public wants picks. Whether it’s a stock pick or a sports pick, they want a specific, actionable recommendation. And media outlets – whether it’s CNBC or ESPN – need to give the public what they want to keep their attention. So it’s not at all surprising that CNBC resorts to trotting out underperforming money managers as guests on their shows. And given there are only a handful of people with proven, long-term track records of winning at sports betting, it’s understandable that Chad Millman has resorted to interviewing articulate touts, even if those touts are proven money losers.

Now, whether ESPN should provide legitimacy to these tout operations by interviewing their pick-sellers is another matter entirely. And one that’s very much worth debating.

 

2 Responses to “How ESPN is Like CNBC (or Why Touts Get Interviewed by Major Media Companies)”

  1. Michael Tang

    Greatly written. Love the fact that you pointed out the frauds at pregame.com. There are tons of articles of their track record losing hundreds of thousands of dollars for their “clients”

    Reply
  2. JD

    I agree Golden is the only person you mentioned who is a stud, but there is a lot of generalization going on. As far as interviewing them, I’ve found that even some middling handicappers have some techniques and theories that are worth listening to.

    Reply
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