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A picture paints a thousand words

By - 4 April 2017

New technology is enabling bookmakers to offer almost-live pictures across all their channels, says Dave Gill, Head of Streaming at SIS, and operators can ill-afford to miss out

As technology develops so too do our expectations. Gone are the days when we would tolerate grainy black and white television footage, or wait five minutes for an internet page to download. Sports betting is no different, with machine-based staking becoming the norm in retail, and rapidly changing in-play markets for those trying their luck with live events online.

In particular, there is a pressing need for speed in the modern environment, where consumers have shorter attention spans and time is very much money.

Up-to-the-minute, dynamic odds and offers are now expected, as is faster bet settlement and payback times for winning wagers. But the same cannot be said when it comes to streaming, where delays in picture distribution have remained, despite the fundamental importance of minimising latency in today’s betting experience.

Many punters have drifted away to the exchanges, such as Betfair, and it is here where the information appears to be ahead of video and any fixed odds bookmaker feed, and this is at its most profound in racing, where every second counts.

Fortunately, things are changing and the fixed odds operators and their customers can now expect more of their suppliers in the pursuit of a better user experience and the resultant retention gains it will almost certainly deliver.

SIS recently introduced the next step in picture distribution technology with a superfast streaming offering, in conjunction with Swedish technology firm, Net Insight.

Streaming with a sub-three second lag on mobile devices, compared to an industry average of around 12 to 14 seconds, has been successfully demonstrated within betting operators’ apps. This best-in-class technology allows pictures to align far better with data and pricing, offering the customer a superior, fairer product.

For the time being this product is temporarily restricted to app-based technology on mobile and tablet devices featuring the latest operating systems but browser support is due later in 2017.

But with capabilities across online, mobile and retail shops, superfast streaming is set to become the industry standard. We expect many more operators to follow suit over the coming months as this will greatly improve their customers experience.

The benefits of a reliable video streaming supplier offering lower latency times could even become a key customer battleground, as operators look to differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace. That’s because, with homogenous marketing strategies reducing the impact of sign-up offers, best odds guaranteed and free bet promotions, firms now look to operate on the quality of their product. Information is key to this, whether it be data, video, or visualisation.

Video and data suppliers, such as SIS, have always striven to give the clearest and most accurate feeds to their partners, and offering superfast streaming is the next step in the gradual evolution of the betting product. It facilitates an improved user experience, but also the platform to build on in-play betting.

Horse racing is likely to benefit the most from this as operators look to offer a viable, profitable live product. As it stands, the sport is behind sports such as football and tennis, with its limited choice of in-play betting due to current limitation of in-play data. However, a shorter time discrepancy between the live action and the customer end product, combined with our forthcoming Horses In-Running Pricing product, could be the key to enabling this.

There will certainly be no excuse for operators settling for inferior feeds when better streaming technology is available and affordable. Indeed, superfast streaming might be the difference between operators getting cut-through in an increasingly competitive industry and standing out from the crowd with first-class technology and a superior user experience.

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