Saturday, December 23, 2006

Ramprakash Leads The Polls - But Will There Be A Last Minute Drop Goal?

Any readers out there who think we're heavy on singing and jungles and light on dancing will be pleased to hear that the Special Bets team has been keeping a close eye on the events that have been going on in the ballroom during this series of Strictly Come Dancing.

With Mark Ramprakash and Matt Dawson battling it out in the final this evening, we have been asking the obvious question - who do you want to win? The response was pretty one-sided (click to enlarge):

This ties in with the poll on the official BBC website, which has had nearly 25,000 responses and currently has Mark & Karen on 75.1% and Matt & Lillia on 24.9%.

Matt certainly seems to win the award for most improved dancer, which has been a large part of the reason why he has seen off the competition until now. It was week 7, on the 18th of November, when Matt first became a serious contender in the show, although Mark managed to maintain a slight lead even at this point. A summary of weekly polling data for the two finalists over the course of the show can be seen below:

The obvious take-away from the above is that Mark is not only in the lead, but the trend has been favourable for him for several weeks now.

However, in terms of public appeal, it is Matt that has the track record of getting votes when he needs them, something that Mark can not claim. The fact that this is due to Mark consistently scoring better with the judges is not to be overlooked.

For those observers that mistake our polling data for a crystal ball, please note that all the usual disclaimers apply. It will be a long show tonight, with each couple dancing five times, and the chances of swings in sentiment occurring are too great to be ignored. For this reason, we will be running a live poll this evening the results of which will be published here before the announcement.


Special Bets.

Live Update 21:45

Here are the results of a the survey that we began during the first live show this evening. Mark remains out in front, however it appears that Matt has some extra support in the head to head:

Which couple would you like to win?

Mark & Karen 63.2%
Matt % Lillia 36.8%

Filtered out non-voters, this gives:

Mark & Karen 67%
Matt % Lillia 33%

At the time of writing, Mark is trading at 1.14 on the betting exchanges. We would not view that as particularly generous odds, given that Matt seems to have picked up a little support, and find it very difficult to back him here, even though he remains ahead in the poll.

Good Luck

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Why Aren't Special Bets More Popular?

Back in 2003, the editor of this site - myself - stumbled across the idea of betting on Big Brother. I found that, just like the stock market I knew, I could back and lay (buy and sell) contestants instead of stocks.

I thought that was pretty cool. Reality TV was more fun than the equity market.

Much later, to celebrate the new gambling opportunity I started this website.

Pondering whether Big Brother's Science was more popular than Maxwell or whether Carol Thatcher could capture the ITV audience's favour or whether Ming Campbell could defeat Chris Huhne was far more intriguing for me than Intel's latest quarter or wondering whether Astra Zeneca was a buy or a sell. I wanted to tell the world about these markets. I believed we were on the cusp of a series of events that could rival soccer or horse racing in terms of interest in people pitting their wits and views against one another.

However, a few years down the line, not very much has changed from where I'm sitting.

Betting volumes on Big Brother, The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, The UK General Election and The US Mid-Terms remain very modest. UK horse races that last just 5 minutes regularly trade more betting volume than Reality TV events watched by 8 million viewers and go on for weeks. Why is this so?

The UK is a nation of gamblers. The Football Pools, The National Lottery and The Grand National are events where millions of punters stake a few pounds to try to win a few more. Why don't Reality TV events garner more betting attention?

I have a number of reasons why this is so, but Specialbets are interested in your views.

Think about a few figures for a moment. If just one percent of last year's Strictly Come Dancing final's 10 million viewers exchanged their views on the winner by having a bet, there would be 100,000 people participating in betting on the show - an enormous number.

How can those of us interested in these events attract others? We're regularly surprised by the modest interest in Specials markets. We'd love to hear your feedback. email us or even better, post in the comments section.

Ramble over, Happy Christmas.

Special Bets.