We are just six weeks out from the start of the NFL season, but the start of the fantasy football and betting season is already kicking into a higher gear. As hordes of fantasy players and bettors begin to research the upcoming season, it is peak time for content groups to capture new audiences for both markets.
In a recent webinar sponsored by Spotlight Sports Group titled Customizing the user experience: making your platform standout to sports bettors and sports fans for the NFL season, a group of experts discussed the importance of tools and retention for content creators and operators alike.
Sports Illustrated’s Fantasy and Senior Betting Analyst Jennifer Piacenti moderated the discussion alongside Fantasy Life CEO Eliot Crist and Spotlight Sports Group’s Senior Vice President of B2B Edward Bunnell.
Interest in sports content remains on the rise
While we are five years into the post-PASPA world of betting and fantasy football has been an institution for decades, the desire for betting and fantasy content is not only still strong, it’s still growing.
“We still see new NFL players every year and there’s no sign of slowing down. The fantasy market is growing. Then I think innovations like basketball leagues and things like that make any time of the year football season so that only extends the enjoyment that I think people have. I truly believe we’re kind of living in the golden age of the industry,” Bunnell said of the current state of fantasy sports.
The group also acknowledged that, while football is still king, both bettors and fantasy players, are expanding into new sports. Piacenti cited a recent piece she wrote on Wimbledon betting, while Bunnell and Crist also mentioned golf, the UFC, and even the WNBA as sports on the rise.
With new sports on the rise, there are new opportunities to bring in new bettors and players. With peak acquisition on the horizon too, operators have to think about which groups they are seeking to capitalize on. Unlike the early sports betting years, there is an increased focus on not just bringing in whoever and bringing in customers who will be loyal to a brand.
Affiliates focused on higher-value sports betting customers
“Ultimately what you really worry about is not necessarily sheer volume, but engagement. How often are these people coming back? How valuable is that user? Are they going to bet across sports? Is this something where they’re gonna be promotion hunters or are they gonna go out and actually continue to bet? And this is where I think that content companies, engagement companies, technology, whatever it is in the sports space, have a real opportunity in the future,” said Crist.
For content companies, the question then becomes what kind of user will be that high-value conversion for operators and what content will best appeal to them?
“The basics on how to engage audiences really haven’t changed a whole lot and content needs to inform in an entertaining way. And audiences need to feel like it saves them something. It saves time or money or, potentially in these cases, increases their likelihood of earning money,” Bunnell explained. “So creating different ways for audiences to interact with the content is crucial in keeping them coming back.”
Appealing to a wide range of audiences is important too. As Piaenti noted, even though sports betting is aging, content creators cannot assume everyone has the same baseline of knowledge.
One of the things that I brought to the team [at Sports Illustrated] was I feel like sometimes in the betting world there’s too much jargon being used all the time. What we want to do is just make it so anybody can decide to bet on their favorite,” she said. “There really is a wide range of people, as this is still new. I think those of us who have been doing it a long time can fall into the trap of using a lot of lingo like the juice and the spread and then people don’t know what that means.”
Content needs to keep people in the funnel and leveling up
When the group discussed how much content creators should focus on beginners though, that answer is a little more complicated. It is less about picking a particular expertise level to focus on and more about content sites offering the kinds of tools that both save time and money for users and keeps them in the funnel.
“One thing that I learned early on, especially at CBS, was the ability to move people through the value chain that you have. Elliott talked about it already with Fantasy Live. You start with the novice users. You educate them, you get them trained up, you eliminate some of that intimidation factor as people enter in, whether it’s fantasy or sports betting, like the jargon and everything,” Bunnell said. “You start to educate them. They get comfortable. Then you can move on to the next level. Then you get them so they understand some more advanced concepts behind how to succeed at these games and then you move on. You continually move them up the value chain.”
Crist echoed what Bunnell had to say in his assessment of why he thinks Fantasy Life has experienced the success it has.
“One of the things I think we’re really proud of is that we can speak to the highly engaged a highly knowledgeable user or the beginner and that comes from a combination of technology and tools, but also the content itself and the people who are on the mic or people who are writing the newsletter.”
Information will always be central to fantasy sports and sports betting. Content creators need to focus on how to present that information through both writing and tools in a way that can both improve someone’s skills yet keep them coming back for more.
If you missed the webinar, don’t worry! The replay is available here.