The oddsmakers over at Sportsbook.com are hedging their bets when it comes to Katie Couric.
The online gambling site—which handicaps the outcomes of reality shows like American Idol and Survivor in addition to its bread-and-butter sports categories—opened a book last month on the soon-to-be CBS Evening News anchor. Offering the chance "to play this latest ratings game," Sportsbook invited bettors to wager on Couric’s chances for drawing more than 8.4 million viewers to her inaugural Evening News broadcast Sept. 5.
That number is what Couric pulled in for her farewell Today show appearance on May 31—and over a million viewers more than Evening News currently gets on average.
Oddsmakers set the over/under at +200 that she beats it, -300 she falls short. So a $100 bet on the over could win you $200; the same bet on the under could snag only $33. In other words, the safe bet is that Couric tanks. But that was on June 28. By July 5, Sportsbook had reversed the over/under dramatically so that a $100 bet for a Couric ratings win promised only $62.50, while the same bet for a shortfall could net $120.
As of July 7, the payout for a $100 bet that Couric falls short had jumped to $200. Apparently, so many people had bet that Couric will finish ahead that the oddsmakers had to rejigger the initial odds in case the bettor-viewers turn out to be right and leave Sportsbook with a hefty loss on all those early bets. "There is so much action that they have to hedge their bets," says Sportsbook’s Patrick Erlich, who tracked the trends for B&C. "Everyone is betting the over. We had to adjust the odds to make it less appealing" to bet on Couric’s initial success.