SBCAmericas spoke to Brian Clayton, IMG Arena Sales Director North America about the importance of live streaming when it comes to building loyalty, as well as why IMG Arena’s product continues to standout.
SBCAmericas: Can you tell us more about the importance of live streaming when it comes to operators and platforms engaging sports fans?
Brian Clayton: The real value of live streaming comes in creating brand loyalty by continuously engaging fans on your platform. Sports fans have an insatiable appetite for live sports programming, and they are very clear they want access to these events wherever they go and on any device they choose. Creating brand loyalty is one of the major challenges faced by sportsbook operators.
Relying on competitive pricing and promotions alone will not retain customers in the long-term, therefore delivering engaging content to drive revenues needs to become a core focus. Being able to view what you have bet on immerses the fan in their betting experience, and most importantly, it keeps them engaged and on your platform for longer.
Greater choice, combined with a more sophisticated consumer, means that
operators that do not offer the live-streaming of global events are simply left behind by
those offering a 24/7/365 live streaming experience.
Creating meaningful and memorable connection is key to building relationships. As a bettor,
I engage with an operator’s platform primarily to place a bet. However, it is very likely I am
going to want to watch the sporting action I just placed money on to experience the thrill
and excitement that comes with “having skin in the game”. If the sportsbook I bet with
doesn’t offer live streaming my engagement ends with the transaction and I am forced to
leave the site to watch the action elsewhere, potentially on a competitor’s sportsbook.
The original operator now needs to find another way to re-engage me as a bettor with their platform. By allowing a customer to easily leave your platform, when you know they are
going to want to watch the action they just wagered on, is a huge miss for an operator and
creates a less than ideal betting experience for the customer. It’s a significant lost
opportunity that live streaming can solve.
This view is highlighted when you look at leading industry review sites, one of the major
complaints by fans is a lack of live streaming availability, and that it is a key factor in setting a tier one operator apart from those in their infancy. Live streaming goes hand-in-hand with in-play betting and fast markets; the excitement of placing a bet on what will happen and then watching it live as it happens is unbeatable.
SBCAmericas: What sets IMG ARENA’s streaming product apart from the competition?
Brian Clayton: We are committed to offering official live streaming rights from the world’s highest-profile sports and events. Among our rights, we hold the largest portfolio of men’s tennis, world-class soccer from around the globe, and many more partnerships with the top international sports federations including the NHL, EuroLeague and World Snooker.
Our growing, multi-sport offering includes more than 20,000 events and helps us to serve
more than 100 B2C brands, including bet365, Hong Kong Jockey Club, William Hill, GVC,
Ladbrokes, Sky Bet and Betsson. Consumers can find quality sporting action at the click of a button – at any time of day or night. We also offer full operator control, possess long-term rights deals, and have a best-in-class analytics suite. This combination makes IMG ARENA’s streaming product unique and number one for round the clock, round the world entertainment.
Nearly 40 million users watch official IMG ARENA live streams. The average time spent
watching the stream is nearly seven minutes when you consider that the average time on a
web page is forty seconds this is especially significant. Our content and the quality of our
product delivers a best-in-class fan experience.
We continually invest in our live streaming portfolio adding nearly 3000 events in 2018
alone. This ever-increasing delivery of premium content in a broadening portfolio helped
drive engagement in 2018: tennis hours viewed (+16%), North American coverage (+41%), soccer views (+25%). The increase in content has delivered an additional 4,000,000 additional viewers worldwide and the average stream duration increased 54 seconds (+19%).
How important is live streaming when it comes to engaging the American audience?
Brian Clayton: The American sports fan is one of the most sophisticated on the planet. Consumer broadcast expectations are sky high, thanks to the incredible level of production values.
Meaningful experiences and fan engagement will be more important than ever in the
acquisition and retention of customers as the market continues to evolve. Trust and brand
recognition will be key to player acquisition, with the provision of official sports content
playing a major role in consumer confidence with events such as the Miami Open and Indian Wells providing a platform for engagement and consumer trust.
Live streaming will also provide a foundation for retention and revenue growth as increasing the amount of time bettors engage with a platform, ultimately creates more familiarity with a brand. Brand familiarity is an important factor in retaining players. In the unfortunate event of some negative information that may circulate about your brand, (e.g. a bad news article, bad review, etc) bettors who choose a sportsbook based on familiarity are less likely to change their purchase intentions than those who are using sportsbooks based on price.
In addition, the best way to show off and cross-sell to the wider product portfolio is to keep
new consumers on-page – live streaming will no doubt be at the forefront of strategy to do
this. The ability for the American consumer to now watch live sport from around the globe
with the added bonus of a wager on it will facilitate a greater immersion in the action than
SBCAmericas: In terms of live streaming, can you tell us any differences in the desires of the American audience and the European audience?
Brian Clayton: The obvious difference in streaming preferences will come from what the American audience likes to consume and wager on. Unlike most other sports betting markets around the world, the early numbers indicate the US market will be heavily seasonal and event-driven – reflecting the traditional windows for basketball (October-June) and soccer (September-February). Although this does result in year-long coverage, it also reflects the limitations of a market focus solely on American sports. Although basketball offers a more global reach, regular 365, 24/7 betting activity from US global sports such as tennis and golf will be the key to avoid peaks and troughs in activity.
SBCAmericas: How important is it that you specialise in streaming each sport that you offer?
Brian Clayton: When it comes to betting – and particularly in-play – the importance of specialising in each sport is vital. Having a full range of products available is the key. If a player is looking to engage with ‘the number of aces’ per tennis game or ‘number of goals’ in a soccer game, for example, it is essential that the availability to watch these selections is there. The player is looking to enhance the experience of watching live sport through the introduction of a bet.
Specialising in each sport by offering live streaming creates an ‘event center’ feel that every sports fan is looking for. The ability to watch the game, see the statistics, have a bet, all in one place and all from their most convenient device is the expectation of a modern sports fan. Should operators not specialise, you can expect that a competitor will and, in a
landscape where loyalty has eroded, they will simply shop elsewhere to find this immersive
‘event center’ experience.
SBCAmericas: Can you tell us any more elements of a live streaming offering that help enhance the experience for bettors and sports fans?
Brian Clayton: Live streaming enhances all aspects of a sporting experience for both fans and bettors. The idea of a complete event center is what live streaming encapsulates with its offering. In one place a sports fan or bettor can have the game playing live, in fantastic quality, have all the stats and figures that they could dream of, and also have the opportunity to act on a hunch or prediction by placing a bet.
This, in essence, is the complete sporting experience fans now look for and live streaming is central to it. On another level, live streaming also lowers many barriers to watching sport across the world and helps to grow the game and fan base. For a sportsbook operator, we see the provision of official live streams as one of the number one sources to gain competitive advantage.