What can US sportsbooks learn from Super Bowl LV and the past season?

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As the dust settles on another momentous game for Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, what lessons can US sportsbooks take from Super Bowl LV and the NFL season as a whole? That’s the question I put to Brandon Asgeirsson, US business development specialist at industry-leading player engagement experts Xtremepush.

The first thing to say is that despite the challenges of the last 12 months, Super Bowl LV was a graduation day for the entire US sports betting industry. I think it marks the day that sports betting went national and it went mainstream. TV audience numbers might have been down on previous years, but more people had access to sportsbooks than ever before. Sportsbooks in Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, Colorado and a couple more states now all have their first Super Bowl under their belts. It’s hugely encouraging and sets them up well for the next NFL season.

Did Xtremepush notice any Super Bowl trends?

Looking at the statistics from campaigns sent on the day of and the week leading up to the Super Bowl, our operators saw huge levels of player engagement. Campaigns related to the game performed well across all channels, way above season averages. In the hour pre-KO, push campaigns were really pulling in some great numbers amongst all of those fans who were waiting right up until the last moment to place a bet. But I think operators did a nice job building excitement throughout the week, and personalizing the messages.

We also saw a lot of engagement at half-time, with operators pushing out the latest odds on a Kansas City comeback and some second-half prop bets to stir up interest.

I’ve heard reports from some of our clients that prop bets were excess of 50% of the total action. That’s not a surprise, we know historically that the Super Bowl always attracts a lot of prop bets, way more than during the regular season games. There were plenty of happy fans who’d backed the Brady-Gronkowski partnership to come good, and of course it did.

Overall, I think that what the US sportsbooks have learned is that you need to be proactive in getting the right odds and bets out to players. You can’t wait for the players to come to your website or mobile app. For some of the newer independent sportsbooks, who are operating in a single state, I would say that this is essential if they’re going to have any chance of competing with the industry giants. 

The expectation was that the overall handle would be down on last year, especially in Nevada due to pandemic-related travel restrictions and a general unease around being in large crowds. I think the figures being reported now are suggesting that this was the case. But New Jersey did big numbers, so did Pennsylvania.

To me, it yet again underlines the need for mobile betting to be legalised across all states. I think fans around the country should have the same level of access, even if they can’t make it to a physical sportsbook or casino for whatever reason. Football is a hugely social thing, people like watching it with family and friends in their homes and at sports bars. They should be able to place a wager too.

And what about the reported mobile outages that several of the big US betting apps experienced during the game?

It was frustrating for fans, and I know the operators themselves were extremely disappointed. But I don’t think it will sour bettors on the mobile experience overall. We have to remember that a lot of these apps are brand new, and have never handled such high volumes of traffic. Things will be rectified in the background, and they’ll be ready long before Super Bowl LVI, without a doubt.

So what are Brandon’s predictions for operators during the next NFL season?

I know from talking to some of our clients that they are hugely excited at the prospect of taking all of the data they’ve gathered this season and using it to improve their player engagement. So that means creating smaller micro-segments based on player interests and behavior, and injecting more dynamic content into the campaigns themselves. In some ways 2020 was all about listening and observing US players. 2021 will be about delivering even better, more personalized experiences to them”.

Xtremepush has released a player engagement playbook for sportsbooks, detailing the most impactful acquisition and retention use cases. It’s available to download here.