December 16, 2022

Innovation and tech advancements are key to the future of the betting sector

Infront Bettor's Chris Catling looks at the streaming and data market in the betting sector and looks at where content suppliers will be looking to provide technological innovation in the coming years

Originally published on EGR

Chris Catling runs Infront Bettor, a new division of Infront, one of the world’s leading sports marketing and media agencies, which has secured agreements across content and sponsorship with over 20 sports betting operators since its September 2022 launch.

Infront Bettor is part of a new Infront business unit that combines media rights, betting and technology and seeks to benefit from the synergy between these three areas of expertise.

On the surface there has never been a better time for sports betting. Technological innovation, global sport popularity and positive changes in the regulatory framework in populous territories, such as the repeal of PASPA in the US, have combined to deliver an unprecedented package of potential growth to online sports betting operators. Yet, beneath the surface there are difficult currents to navigate. This wave of regulatory change opening up new markets has brought about a tsunami of high marketing, acquisition and retention costs. Added to this, sports rights holders are starting to expect more revenue generation from the sector – increasing rights costs, hopefully, in proportion to the growing revenues and legal betting activity across the globe.

The industry is starting to see that its future prosperity relies not just on gaining new participants, it’s about providing an engaging experience for these new fans and customers. Innovation in the betting data and streaming product itself will be the key driver in monetising this growth. We see three key trends emerging – ones that will power the changes in the betting data and streaming sector for years to come: real-time content delivery, fan engagement and analytics.

Let’s take these one at a time. Real-time content delivery is centered on ultra-low latency. Latency stands at the heart of the fan experience, especially as it relates to betting. Historically, the industry average is a six to nine seconds delay for betting streaming, but technology exists to bring this closer to one second. The additional interactivity with the possibility of driving betting directly from the video, will deliver better engagement and help drive higher commercial returns from in-play.

The second trend emerging is a focus on fan engagement. Millennials and Gen Z consume sports content in myriad ways – from watch-along parties on YouTube to following influencers on TikTok and Instagram. Simple linear sports watching is being challenged. Real-time interactivity and gamification will grow in importance, so technological changes such as prompt overlays, real-time clip delivery with betting prompts and in-screen betting will be expected as the norm by the next generation of sports bettors.

Finally, analytics will help operators make the right decisions for their business and end users.  At Infront we have been analysing digital and broadcast metrics for many years and we have seen that the products we have developed to feedback on ROI has enhanced our relationships with our partners.

I’m excited about the role that computer vision for data collection is playing and will develop, leading to more detailed data points potentially opening up richer in-play betting markets. Having worked across the sports technology and betting industry for many years before I joined Infront, at Stats Perform and Deltatre, then leading IMG into its first steps into OTT, I believe that there is scope for content providers to the betting industry to provide far more innovation to their video and data products creating more interactive and engaging betting products.

Beyond these trends, there will be another wave of change as lines increasingly blur between media and sports betting operators. DAZN Bet, potentially ESPN Bet and Fanatics plus Draft Kings and FanDuel TV – these brands will impact the system in ways we can’t yet know. Suppliers in the betting sector will need to be able to navigate the media world, and understand the challenges from a broadcaster’s perspective as well.

As these sectoral changes occur, the continued existence and relevance of agency content aggregators has been questioned. Can this business model be sustainable when rights holders could consider going direct to betting operators? My belief is that sports agencies and content aggregators will continue to be relevant. From a rights holder perspective it is not economic to mobilise a distributed global sales team to sell your rights every four to five years to the global market of betting operators. And from the betting operators’ perspective, being supplied with a robust delivery platform aggregating data and video is far simpler than finding resources and supporting integrations from every single individual rights holder. If the content aggregators can add innovation and new technology then value is added from the middle in both directions—and will lead to better products, more fan engagement and broader commercial opportunities for all parties.

As the boundaries between broadcast, fan engagement and betting continue to merge, sports technology expertise will become even more relevant, and we look forward to playing our part in this high-growth, high-innovation industry sector.