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Sports streaming: greater levels of engagement and immersion

By - 18 February 2020

Streaming will revolutionise the way we watch and bet on sports in the future. As part of our ongoing series on Sports Streaming we talk to Max Wright, SVP Commercial at IMG ARENA.

IMG ARENA specialises in bringing sport and the sports betting industry closer together via its federation services and world-class sports content. Launched in 2012, the company leveraged its rights expertise to pioneer the mainstream introduction of official data rights. It paved the way for a new revenue stream for its federation clients, whilst at the same time delivering greater value to the sports betting industry. Its focus is on fan-first engagement via the delivery of content and product innovations that fuel the emotions and excitement unique to world-class sport. It works alongside rights holders to deliver official products that are true to the sports and events. Its expertise includes the creation and delivery of some of the world’s best sporting content with its official Fastpath Data feeds, Live Streaming service, Events Centres and Virtual Sports products.

What does streaming add to the overall sports betting experience? When it comes to customer engagement how does streaming help?

Streaming live content – whether it is for betting purposes or otherwise – is now a central part of being a sports fan. There is an insatiable appetite for live programming and consumers are used to being able to demand access to the sports content they want to watch wherever they go and on any device they choose. With customer expectations getting ever- higher, offering live streaming is an essential component for sportsbooks to engender brand loyalty. It has gone from being a nice-to-have to a must-have.

Comments on betting industry product review sites underline that a lack of streaming availability is a major frustration among sports bettors. It is a clear marker that brings authenticity and a connection with sports. It boosts enjoyment of both the wager and sporting event. Without streaming, sports betting is purely transactional.

Live Streaming is also vital for education and developing awareness of events, sports and tournaments. Players will be more engaged if they are familiar with what they are betting on. We are seeing more and more that sports organisations and rights holders understand the value that live streaming offers in terms of audience development and boosting awareness among new territories, markets and demographics.

How will streaming impact the sports betting industry?

Put simply, there is a significant possibility that without a comprehensive live streaming offering operators will be left behind.

However, as fan behaviour continues to evolve, expectations will continue to rise. Just having live streaming in itself isn’t going to be enough. It has to be a quality proposition with a broad presentation that also offers sport-specific optimisation, which truly enriches the betting experience. This means the opportunity to watch the event, see the most meaningful statistics, and then use these to inform betting choices. We have tried to anticipate and meet this need with the launch of our Event Centres. They are designed to capture a forensic level of detail and replicate the excitement of being live inside the arena.

How will sports streaming help drive revenues for sports betting companies?

Live streaming keeps players more engaged, more often, and for longer periods. Nothing beats the excitement of placing a bet and watching the outcome live.

Nearly 40 million users view official IMG ARENA live streams across more than 25,000 events per year. The average time spent watching the stream is nearly seven minutes and, 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 world-class fan experience, which is why we serve more than 360 B2C brands across the globe, including Paddy Power Betfair, bet365, Hong Kong Jockey Club, William Hill, GVC, GroupUnibet, Sky Bet and Betsson.

What are some of the most recent developments from IMG ARENA in the streaming sports betting space?

Our Event Centres are the jewel in our crown in terms of product development. They combine state-of-the- art technology with an immersive fan experience.

Earlier this year we launched our Golf Event Centre which offers live streaming from two Par Three holes. The interface we have built within the Event Centre, around both the live streaming and the world’s first shot- by-shot data proposition, delivers a unique way to interact with the sport. For the first time you can experience and enjoy every shot, made by every player.

The fully immersive experience allows fans to stand next to players throughout the tournament and enjoy cutting-edge 3D visualisations of the some of the world’s best golf courses. Taking players to the heart of the action ensures they have all of the latest and most relevant information at their fingertips with everything from course conditions to player stats.

We strongly believe that we need to change the way we look at front end solutions, not just live streaming, to evolve and inspire how fans engage with the sports they love. This engagement helps grow the reach of sports and sportsbooks – putting the sport in sports betting.

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