Josh Linforth discusses how U.S. publishers can capitalize on the sports betting buzz sweeping the country.
A year to the day after the legalization of sports wagering in the U.S., news of media supergiant FOX Sports’ plans to lend its name to a sportsbook brand provided the biggest indication yet that the industry is set to explode in the years to come.
The deal topped off 12 months of frenzied activity since the Supreme Court repealed PASPA, the law that restricted sports wagering to a single state – Nevada. Companies of all shapes and sizes, from the MGMs and Caesars of the world to start-up software suppliers, have jostled for a position to compete for their slice of the legal wagering pie. And if FOX is prepared to go all-in with a $236 million investment, you can be sure that the competition is going to be fierce.
Media brands and publishers have a huge role to play in this nascent and rapidly evolving market. Taking FOX’s route and launching a sportsbook brand, alongside a suitable partner, is the most direct route to market, but it’s also the riskiest. It requires major investment over a sustained period with no guarantee of success no matter the strength of the brand.
Meanwhile, other media brands are choosing to explore less resource-heavy, but no less attractive, opportunities to grow and monetize an audience of sports bettors.
A safe bet
Back in May, I was in New Jersey watching an NBA playoff game between the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers with a Nuggets fan. But it wasn’t just the Nuggets he was rooting for. With online sports betting legal in the Garden State, he was able to bet the over on Nikola Jokic’s points total with a local sportsbook. It meant each shot and pass carried extra meaning and he was totally gripped not only to the action on the TV screen but to his phone so he could follow live game stats online.
Sports bettors need statistical insights to inform their bets and become highly engaged consumers of live sports content when the game is underway. Many publishers and media brands are aiming to capitalize on this – and attract a whole new valuable demographic – by adding real-time sports and betting data, like win probabilities and projected scores into their pre-game analysis and overall sports content offering.
But that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating an authentic experience for sports bettors. This audience wants to get under the skin of the game. Publishers need to provide deep insights and data points at their fingertips, helping them to paint a mental picture of how a game will play out and how players will perform.
Content that presents useful information in a fun and digestible way, be that player stats, historical against-the-spread results or betting calculators, is key. That’s not to mention presenting real-time updates and live comparisons of bookmakers’ odds. With the right partner, all of these content elements are easily added to a website.
A lucrative new audience
Building and engaging this new demographic hands media brands and publishers a major new revenue opportunity. Sportsbook brands are set to fight a long, hard battle for market share characterized by rising acquisition costs and high churn rates. Providing these brands with direct access to sports betting traffic provides an exciting new stream of advertising revenue.
Publishers wanting to have even more skin in the game can take the odds comparison proposition to another level. With the right content – odds updated in real-time – and relationships with bookmakers, they can create an affiliate attribution model and earn money when they direct traffic to a sportsbook’s website.
Evidently there is a multitude of ways publishers and media brands can get a piece of the sports betting action and the ball is firmly in publishers’ court. But, like the sports betting market itself, correctly positioning your content and market is crucial in what will be a hugely competitive fight for the attention of sports betting customers.
As Commercial Director of Genius Sports Media, Josh Linforth is an experienced performance marketing practitioner. He has spent much of the last decade working alongside the largest brands in sport and focuses particularly on the sports betting industry, advising sports betting operators on how to deliver personalized content & campaigns to fans.