Michele Fischer, Vice-President of SIS Content Services, discusses how a new breed of esports products can become a strong betting proposition for US sports fans.
One of the major challenges facing US sportsbooks is providing sufficient betting opportunities to keep players entertained, particularly around major sporting events and when the events are not available.
For operators in mature European markets, gaps between live action have historically been filled with increasingly sophisticated virtual products, which have served to engage with bettors during, for example, half-time intervals of big soccer games shown on live TV.
In these nascent days of the overall US market, where virtual offerings have not been available, sportsbooks are looking at alternative options to engage with customers during the biggest events.
This is particularly important given the huge money that has been spent on customer acquisition by major brands in the US in a bid to gain an early-mover advantage. Once bettors have committed to signing up to a particular operator, it is vital that they can find compelling, short-form content on which to place a bet.
Set against this background, premium event-based esports products can go a long way to keeping bettors engaged when the major league action is on pause.
Esports is hugely popular in the US but has its challenges as a betting product. One of the major sticking points is that tournament-based esports betting offerings only occur at certain times of the day. So, while a Nets fan might be attracted to watching an NBA2K event on their mobile phone during a half-time interval, there is no guarantee that a tournament schedule will match up with that intention, which represents potential lost revenue for an operator.
Another issue is latency. Tournaments are broadcast through Twitch or YouTube, which means what viewers are being presented with on these platforms is out of date by anything up to 15 seconds. This naturally represents a major headache for traders, and it means that many compelling in-play markets cannot be safely offered.
The other major concern around esports betting within tournaments is integrity. There have been high-profile incidents where match-fixing and cheating have occurred in tournaments. In addition, the lack of a regulatory body for esports means there is a trust deficit that can be difficult for risk-averse operators to overcome – particularly when considering lower-tier esports events, where a lack of both oversight and prize money is a combustible combination.
At SIS, our 35-year experience in creating profitable short-form betting content has helped us develop a compelling esports solution that deals with every pain point an operator could imagine.
Our product offers live, round-the-clock events that provide a wide range of in-play markets and a regular rotation of matches. As the betting industry’s only end-to-end esports betting proposition, we provide operators with the entire package: data, ultra-low latency streaming, live commentary from our casters, on-screen graphics with betting triggers, and an extensive range of markets and odds.
When it comes to integrity, we are the first esports betting supplier to have been awarded the Gold Standard from the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC), an organization that was created to set unmatched levels of integrity and safety in the industry. Every event is overseen by a trained referee, and we make sure to match up our gamers with rivals of a similar standard so that contests are keenly fought.
SIS Competitive Gaming became the first event-based esports solution to go live in the US when it launched with bet365 in New Jersey late last year, and we have since added Colorado to the ranks. Our early experience in offering event-based esports betting in the country has emphasized its strong performance when marketed in the right way to customers.
Our short-form esports content, created and broadcast from secure studios in the UK, features gamers facing off against each other in NBA2K events with five-minute quarters that suit the needs of bettors. When presented with our product, bet365 opted to place it on the same tab as their real-life basketball markets on their mobile app. The results have been very promising indeed in terms of engaging with bettors within that tab, proving that the barrier to understanding between the two worlds is as low as its potential for creating new revenue streams is high.
It is a similar case to that of markets within Europe, where we have seen very promising results from our esoccer product, which utilizes the FIFA game engine, when it has been placed within the same tab as real-life action. Operators have reported that when presented this way, the results speak for themselves, with betting on esoccer markets adding up to 20% of the sportsbook’s entire soccer revenues.
Whether considering a sports simulation or a particular demographic that prefers the excitement generated by CS:GO, we have carefully calibrated products that resonate when put in front of the right audience. In a sports betting world where constantly attracting the attention is key to driving revenues, we are still only scratching the surface when it comes to realizing the potential of esports.
Michele Fischer will be on a panel discussing the topic ‘Esports: Turning pro and here to stay’ at the SBC Summit North America conference and tradeshow, which takes place at Meadowlands Exposition Center, New Jersey on May 9-11, 2023.