BETEGY’s Alex Kornilov on how data drives engagement as well as betting

BETEGY data and gambling storytelling
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For some people, data can be very overwhelming. The thought of opening an Excel document produces anxiety. Not Alex Kornilov though. The BETEGY founder and CEO has been living and breathing data for his entire career.

“I love Big Data. I love data in general,” he gushed.

PokerGO used information to create more narratives beyond the game

BETEGY’s Alex Kornilov

That love for data manifested itself into BETEGY, a platform that creates instantaneous custom digital assets ranging from ads to on-air graphics. One such example was working with PokerGO and the World Series of Poker to create graphics around cash game and tournament poker coverage.

If you’ve never watched live poker play, it can include bursts of excitement as a single hand can determine literal millions of dollars. Between those exciting moments though, there is a lot of time spent essentially watching players think. Poker is a game of thousands of decisions in a day. Hands can stretch on for 15-20 minutes sometimes. With players wearing sunglasses, scarves, and, in the pandemic, masks, that left very little to show on screen.

That created the problem of poker viewers zoning out and very passively watching unless big hands were happening. Enter Kornilov and the BETEGY team, who worked with production to bring new narratives to the broadcast beyond who might win this hand and who will win the tournament.

“You need to tell a story about each player or you need to tell a story on top of the main story. The main story is money and then the secondary story is who is playing, why he’s playing, and what’s going on in his life,” Kornilov explained.

Announcers could fill in lulls by talking about the background of the players using graphics that could be pulled and dismissed with ease.

“We’re very good in data visualization work with APIs and data and everything,” he said. “So we can actually take all the sources we have, see what you need, and allow your producers to actually create graphics on the fly and tell the story so commentators can switch topics right away.”

US sports fans more engaged in data than European ones

Using data visualization to tell stories in poker is one way BETEGY operates, but it is doing work on the sports betting side as well. During the previous World Cup, BETEGY data was presented on Yahoo Sports and well-received for its ability to take information and distill it into a visual or series of visuals that helped to tell a story about the event.

Data in a vacuum is not compelling, but when you have a database of information to work with, what is presented is not just numbers on a screen and more an entire narrative or story on top of a sporting event.

Kornilov sees many more opportunities for data-driven storytelling in the US market compared to Europe both because US sports fans are more interested in data and because the sports US bettors and fans are interested in have more data to work with. He had this to say about American football compared to its soccer counterpart:

“There are more data points. There are more, different types of statistics on player level, team level, and league level which you can dig in to understand the sport, and soccer, on the contrary, is very simple.”

Data integrations can generate interest and fandom in a sport

There are also sports leagues that are bringing new fans in by appealing to their interest in data. Kornilov offered F1 racing as a prime example.

“It’s a completely different market. It’s a huge wave of data-driven sport, and it requires different approach to sports betting and we think also will require different types of markets. And micro gaming becomes a big step. Micro-gaming will open up the whole Pandora’s box of different types of betting because then you can be interacting with the content you are watching on a real-time basis and then you can select what type of bets you want to do.”

That kind of engagement isn’t just enticing to sportsbooks. Many smaller sports leagues are reaching out to BETEGY about how to create betting markets around data.

“The latest group we talked to about it was competitive bull riding,” Kornilov said with a chuckle. “And you know, it sounds like a joke, but this is very serious about it. They want to create odds. They want to have rights, sells the rights for broadcast. They want to create layers of entertainment and social. They want to replicate the success of the NFL.”

Obviously professional bull riding will not be surpassing the popularity of the NFL any time soon, but replicating the engagement and creating fans through data integrations and data-driven narratives can build a stronger following for it. Moreover, it is getting cheaper and cheaper to track and log all that information.

Cost of data collection going down, creating new opportunities

Data collection over time will always go down in terms of price per data point. So collecting data will be cheaper and cheaper and cheaper,” he explained. That creates more work for data companies like BETEGY. The end result may be a bigger bill for clients, but in actuality, the labor to process that data is getting cheaper too.

“The cost of analysis will go down, but the sheer increase in the data size will always make business for the companies or for the businesses which make insights. I think this is a global trend,” he added.

Always one to put the data point in context, Kornilov is not just thinking about the present, he is planning for the future when it comes to BETEGY and to the use of data in the gambling industry.