Sports broadcasts have long been recognized as a great way to engage with fans, but the formula to make those same audio and video experiences work for sportsbooks has proved elusive. Until now.
A group of sports reporters and broadcasters from the UK, who bring with them experience of working on high-profile radio and TV shows for the BBC, Sky Sports, and DAZN, has founded Sports Broadcast Media (SBM).
The company has already developed tailored recorded pre-game and live-streamed in-play shows that have delivered tangible results for sports betting operators in Europe and it is now turning its attention to the US.
Ahead of exhibiting at next month’s SBC Summit North America, SBM’s CEO Al Ross told us how the broadcasts could work for US sportsbook operators keen to improve player engagement and retention.
SBC: Could you explain what your offer is and how you work with sportsbook operators?
Al Ross: We provide the kind of audio and video content that often gets called ‘traditional media’. That can be recorded content like podcasts, vodcasts, interviews and feature videos, or it can be live streaming audio or video.
The marketing teams at sportsbook operators are pretty savvy. They tend to know what they want to achieve and we tailor our offerings to match their objectives. Our live in-play products are great ‘sticky’ content for websites, whereas things like features and vodcasts can be either retention or acquisition tools, depending how they’re constructed and used. Once we have the brief, it’s down to us to make sure the quality of the product is good enough to cut through in an increasingly crowded online space.
Most companies who approach us want to talk about soccer content because our company is based in England, but we can produce the same kind of products for almost any mainstream sport – that includes basketball, football, ice hockey, golf, cricket, tennis, esports, even reality TV or politics if that’s what the client wants, and we’ll provide it in a native voice where it makes sense to. American sports fans wouldn’t want British people giving them baseball tips, for instance.
That’s a big reason why we’ve invested in exhibiting at SBC Summit North America in New Jersey for the first time this year. We were founded by a team of presenters and journalists who have contact books full of commentators and former professional players that reach around the world and across several languages. We want to show potential clients that geography and language aren’t barriers for us.
SBC: In a world where sports fans – and particularly younger ones – seem to rely on social media to consume the action, who is a longer form offer targeted at?
AR: People will watch or listen to content if it’s relevant to them. If they’re interested in getting betting tips for the coming weekend, they’ll put on headphones and listen to a betting podcast while they’re doing something else. When the game is on, some of our viewers will choose to have our broadcasts as their main focus, but more often they’ll have the game muted on their big screen TV and use our content for their second screen experience.
The way they choose to engage with the content, and therefore the client operator, isn’t as important as the fact that they are choosing to remain engaged with it.
Live in-play services have to be longform because the games they cover are long, but there are no such restrictions with recorded content. We can create anything from a ‘classic’ 40-minute roundtable betting preview to something we call ‘BetBites’, which is a much more high-octane product where numerous events are expertly analyzed with betting tips, but each event is given no more than 90 seconds. That’s a very social media-friendly offering.
The way fans are interacting with live sport has changed massively in the last 10-15 years, but outside of social media the approach of the sports betting industry hasn’t changed much at all.
The fact that so many fans now engage with sport in secondary ways, such as second screen, gives operators new pathways to connect with them which aren’t yet being exploited. With our live services there’s also an added opportunity to engage fans when the sportsbook is at its most dynamic, and when the punter is most engaged in the sport.
There are some newer operators in the UK market who are making serious strides in this area and I’m expecting a lot of other Tier 1s to realize very soon that they’ll need more than just blogs and raw data offerings if they’re going to remain competitive.
SBC: SBM has a tailored show that streams live with Sportsbet.io. How has this grown and what benefits has the operator seen since the show launched?
AR: We’re a bootstrap company and they were our first big client. Our service started as a live radio tipping service for the UEFA Euros finals in 2021. We rented a small room in a serviced office and bought just enough kit to make the service viable.
The output worked as we expected it to, Sportsbet.io asked to extend the radio service for the full 2021/22 Premier League season, then for this season they wanted us to move to an in-vision service – something similar to the UK’s Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday or BBC One’s Final Score, but aimed purely at the betting community.
Sportsbet.io have been brilliant for us, and I can’t say enough good things about their content team, but there’s a compelling commercial reason they’ve chosen to use us more heavily each year – the engagement with the product keeps growing and this season it’s been amazing.
They’ve tracked and tagged viewers of our shows so they know that when we’re producing live content, viewers stay on their website for 72% longer than non-viewers, they place 82% more bets than non-viewers and they post 900 – 2000% more often on their internal chat room than non-viewers.
We’ve been lucky enough to work with several other big clients since the Euros as well, both inside and outside the betting industry, and we’re just bringing our fifth visual studio online, so for us it’s been an amazing two years of growth.
SBC: How might the SBM streamed content model work with the big American sports?
AR: If you look at the website of almost every US operator, there are no sports products to engage their customer base once the action goes live. Quite a few have blogs, some of them have podcasts – although most of those are just recorded Zoom calls and the quality varies wildly – but even these go out of date as soon as the action starts.
Since we formed, we’ve asked so many operators the question, ‘What do you do to keep your customers engaged once the games go live?, and as yet, no-one has given us a positive strategic answer, so this isn’t a slight against US operators, it’s a global issue.
Operators looking to enter the US know they have to provide engagement tools to make themselves heard as the marketplace continues to open up in a geo that’s full of entertainment media.
One thing that is of huge importance to us is to always produce quality content for specific markets in the native language, using the appropriate betting terminology, and retaining that authenticity that operators rely upon.
SBC: Other than sportsbook operators, who else could benefit from the SBM service?
AR: Anyone with an audience to engage. I’ve talked about operators a lot, but affiliate sites, sports content sites, data websites….
We can build audiences and we can build brand loyalty, but there are already a lot of examples of companies who have a loyal following that’s ready to interact, but isn’t being provided with the engaging content.
For a lot of sites, the content can be that final ‘bridge’ between a customer base and an interactive community.
SBC: And finally, SBM will be exhibiting at this year’s SBC Summit North America; what can delegates expect to find at your booth?
AR: Answers. That’s the most important thing we can provide. People know what ‘traditional media’ products are but providing them for their customers is uncharted territory throughout almost the entire industry, particularly with live services.
We’ll have lots of different types of product that people can watch or listen to, and we’re taking a mix of technical and broadcast staff so we can talk about what products best suit a company’s needs, the best ways of integrating them, and how we can make sure the content we supply most effectively turns audience into long-term customers.
Sports Broadcast Media will be exhibiting at booth A32 throughout SBC Summit North America 2023, which takes place on May 9-11 at Meadowlands Exposition Center, New Jersey. To schedule a meeting, contact the SBM team here.