Parleh: sportsbooks should be immersing themselves within the entertainment space

Picture this. It’s Friday night, you’re settled in for the night – phone in one hand, laptop on the arm of your chair and the TV on in the background. How do you decide which device to focus on? Most likely, it will be the one with the most engaging content.

In a world where Netflix, Spotify, Disney Plus and ESPN are an ever-present feature in our daily lives, it is becoming increasingly difficult for media, sports and entertainment brands to compete for our attention – and the same can be said when it comes to gambling brands. 

Speaking ahead of SBC Summit North America, Parleh Media Group CEO and Founder Mark Silver takes a look at the challenges that sportsbooks might face when it comes to engaging audiences in a world of mass media consumption, before outlining the reasons why the betting and gaming industry might be wise to take a leaf from the film industry.

SBC: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! So, for those that don’t know, can you tell us about Parleh?   

First off, thanks to SBC for giving Parleh its launching pad back in December 2021. Winning your inaugural First Pitch competition gave our then-six-month-old business a massive boost in brand recognition and credibility both with operators and investors.

Parleh Media Group is a sports betting media brand and content/social production studio. We saw a gap in the sports media landscape where others had not focused on the importance of demystifying and normalizing sports betting for fans who are interested in gambling but were intimidated by the complexity. This untapped segment of new and early-lifecycle bettors is an attractive and low-cost customer acquisition opportunity for sportsbooks, affiliates and publishers. 

SBC: You’re due to speak at the upcoming SBC Summit North America on the changing landscape for media and entertainment. What would you say are the key challenges for betting when it comes to competing with large scale entertainment giants such as Netflx?

Whether it’s sports or entertainment, all forms of media consumption battle with user choice and attention focus. But I would disagree with the idea that sports betting is in competition with Netflix for my attention simply because multitasking and mobile devices means that I can do both at the same time – that competition is no longer a zero sum game. I can simultaneously watch Ozark on Netflix and passively follow my bet slip without missing an opportunity to bet in-game or a dramatic moment in the show.

There is also a lot of innovation happening in the ‘watch and bet’ space which is solving a problem for the streaming of live sports to audiences across connected TVs, desktop and mobile. I’m a fan of that experience, because I grew up in a linear world. But for younger generations, watching the linear live broadcast is boring most of the time, unless it’s a social co-viewing occasion. 

For betting to become a social norm, sportsbooks need to be engaging with fans on their own terms and on the platforms of their choice. As we have all come to learn, that engagement happens on social media and in sub-60-second increments. That’s where Parleh focuses all of its efforts.

SBC: What lessons can betting and gaming learn from traditional forms of entertainment when it comes to keeping players engaged – especially younger, more tech-savvy bettors who typically have a shorter attention span? 

Betting is obviously different when it comes to advertising and promotion. While celebrities and athletes are typically free to promote most brands to vast global social followings, we have seen how market-specific regulatory rules change the playbook for operators. While big-time endorsement deals continue in gaming, this content takes the form of a 30-second commercial on linear. 

Like it or not, authentic Tik Tok-style content and engagement is what everyone is chasing. That means finding local-market ambassadors who can create content that is on-side with the specific regulatory advertising guidelines.

One lesson that sports betting can learn from the entertainment world is how movies, television shows and even music consumption have increasingly been driven by tentpole events. Take Disney as an example, who has turned every Marvel movie into an event. They are making fewer movies than ever before, but those that are made are driving bigger and bigger revenue numbers. 

Same is true on television – Stranger Things as an event drives consumption on Netflix. Drake’s latest album drop drives consumption on Spotify. How can sports betting consistently have more event-like experiences – outside of just the Super Bowl – to engage customers?

SBC: What role can social media play in building engagement?

Compared to other line items in an operator’s customer acquisition marketing mix, social media holds the most potential. While operators are all experts in their return on ad spend and affiliate programs, these acquisition channels don’t permit the operator to truly engage with customers. 

The ability to easily reach existing and new audiences in an instant is an enticing proposition for operators who are prepared to make the investment in their brand’s organic reach. With many operators in most of these markets, social can be a valuable way to establish a brand voice, build brand affinity and ultimately bring customers to your product.

The trick for operators to be successful with social media is to set expectations with audiences that there’s consistent value to be received by following the operator’s social accounts. Now’s a good time to mention that Parleh Media Group works with operators as a white-label, social-as-a-service provider which features round-the-clock social account management from our in-house team of betting content experts.

SBC: Looking to the future, do you think we will see betting taking more inspiration from the entertainment industry? 

There’s a few schools of thought out there. Some leagues and broadcasters believe betting should be integrated into the primary linear broadcast while others, like the NBA, prefer the audience to actively select an immersive streaming experience for betting. 

We’re still extremely early into the regulated landscape in North America, so thinking about the broader entertainment industry, I expect to see betting themes emerging in non-sports content. This is no different than how social media storylines are prevalent in content we see with scripted shows.

SBC: What can we expect from Parleh for the remainder of this year? 

We started from scratch just over a year ago. We’ve had great early success building out our talent roster, content production factory and distribution of our short-form social content. As I mentioned, we’re doing all this as a service for operators, plus we have two dozen content brands of our own. Our next frontier will be to evolve our linear distribution. 

In the fall, we’ll be launching weekly shows focused on soccer, hockey and football. Our differentiator is that these shows will be pumping out short form content daily, reaching audiences through third-party distribution and social media. It’s a compelling opportunity for operators and non-gaming brands to immerse themselves in the presentation of the content and amplify that reach through our media partners.
Mark Silver will be speaking at the upcoming SBC Summit North America as part of “The changing landscape of media and entertainment – the battle for screen time” panel, which takes place on Thursday 14 July, 3:00PM EST.