Thomas Molloy, Sportsbook Product and Trading Director at Pronet Gaming, addresses the increasing importance of live streaming and how operators can use it to differentiate their offers in the marketplace.
With sports betting around the globe experiencing evolution and, in some regions, revolution, features like live streaming of sporting events and play-by-play visualisations are increasingly being seen as essential tools for operators.
According to Pronet Gaming’s Sportsbook Product and Trading Director Thomas Molloy, live streaming is already a necessity. “The caveat to that is the region in which an operator is trading,” he said, adding: “An example here would be the African market. At a lesser stage of maturity and with heavy data expense, in-play betting does not see the turnover that the pre-game environment sees.”
He believes this is in stark contrast to pretty much the majority of other regions where in-play is the driver. “Bettor habits in the more mature markets revolve around quick payouts and the ability to see and engage with those events they place their bets on,” he explained.
“For players to engage, there must be stimulation and simply offering a scoreboard no longer cuts it. Offering a streaming solution or play-by-play visuals is proven to drive the growth operators are looking for.
“Streaming, in particular, provides excitement and connection and the streaming solutions we offer our clients at Pronet Gaming have been proven to grow our in-play vertical significantly, which our operators are taking full advantage of.”
In respect of match trackers and play-by-play visualisations, Molloy warned that there are still many poor-quality ones out there. “Granted, they continue to drive more engagement than simple scoreboards, but there is a need to improve the quality of those products,” he said.
“Take football, for example. Those visuals which now ball-track are a step up in quality and allow end-users the ability to track the ball in real-time, as opposed to showing areas of the field where the ball may be.”
What many operators will be asking is how can they differentiate their offering in this area of sportsbook provision? “It’s a good question,” responded Molloy, “and this is one area that operators are looking to gain an edge in. First and foremost, the biggest differentiator is coverage.
“There are still operators with minor streaming coverage and operators who can only show play-by-play visuals for one or two sports because their providers do not have the coverage they need. The real value in streaming comes from those obscure, lesser quality sports and events which are not shown on TV and which would typically attract very little interest.”
By offering a watch-and-bet function across a wider variety of sports and with greater frequency, Molloy believes that those events become a different proposition to end-users. He advised: “Bettors can now watch those events unfold and this is where those two contributors spoken of above – excitement and connection – drive significant further engagement.
“A proprietary solution we worked on here at Pronet Gaming was to allow users on mobile a mini TV function which can be pinned, allowing the chosen event to remain in view while scrolling through the betting offer. Typically, end-users would need to scroll or jump from page to page to search the betting coverage and lose access to the event they may have already placed a bet on. Our solution solves this issue.”
Offering live streaming within a sportsbook isn’t without its challenges, as Molloy explained. “Coverage is difficult. It often requires multiple agreements across various rights holders to access those sought-after events. Price is also a major consideration.
“It’s not a secret how important streaming is in the in-play environment and as such with supply and demand, the cost of obtaining streaming rights is becoming a significant expense to operators. This is why there are more and more illegal streams now being used. Despite the latency, which is often between five and 15 seconds, there appears to be a market for it.”
He concluded: “In terms of sports, almost all will turn over more volume if end users can watch what is unfolding. Football is still the biggest-turnover sport worldwide and streaming of matches is a major influencer in that. What we have seen more recently is the growth of esports and a key contributor in that is the ability for bettors to view those events via those streaming solutions, such as Twitch and YouTube.”