Sports media primarily exists digitally these days and faces two pivotal questions in what’s now a very crowded landscape. How can outlets optimise content to get bigger audiences and how will they monetise that reach and engagement? These questions were at the heart of discussions at the Spielmacher Konferenz 2019 in Hamburg recently, where there were clear indicators of what users are going for – primarily interactive, relevant and up-to-date features on platforms. That’s why betting and its advertising revenue potential is increasingly becoming a major avenue that outlets are exploring.
Dicussing the challenges of a fast-changing digital landscape
Right in the packed speakers’ hall at the conference, a panel consisting of moderator Jonathan Earle from Sportradar, Britta Sölter from Athletia Sports and Maurice Eisterhues from TorAlarm entered the stage to talk about “The Battle & Monetisation of Attention”. At the centre of the debate were some of the difficulties publishers are facing when it comes to capturing attention in an increasingly splintered digital audience. Consequently, Athletia’s Managing Director stated:
Users that are not necessarily into a special kind of sports are the audience that’s hard to engage and the real challenge.
While consistently growing reach and engagement seems a relatively straightforward concept, as Eisterhues knows, its actually anything but. TorAlarm’s Managing Director, understands better than most the challenges of getting people to use apps consistently, noting:“Organic growth is decreasing from year to year, so what we‘ve started to invest in is marketing efficiency and targeted promotion.”
Marketing is specifically crucial to TorAlarm’s strategy because user behaviour regarding the journey to apps has changed. With live scores and results apps readily available for football, they need to find other features to enable a unique user experience as well as innovating when it come to monetisation. Starting with marketing opportunities is a shrewd move, as is the use of data and algorithms to match user behaviour with appropriate advertising content. “We’ve got premium ads, programmatic ads and sports betting advertising and we’re working with different bookmakers,” said Eisterhues in response to Earle’s assertion that “betting could be a major driver for media going forward”.
Sportradar’s Customer Director for Sports Media also noted that betting solutions and ads are proving increasingly popular options for publishers and rights holders when it comes to monetising and engaging with users, as it offers the interactive, real-time element increasingly being sought after in a second-screen-focused landscape.
The younger generation is a FIFA first, players second and clubs far behind-generation.
Go for platforms, go for betting
Using platforms to drive growth is something the agency and publisher 433 place a big focus on. Their CCO Floris Weisz was on stage prior to the aforementioned panel and, like Lee Walker from fellow media outlet Bleacher Report, he emphasised the possibilities that still remain on social media even in the era of fake news and reduced organic growth.
433 have 35 million followers in total, only invest on Facebook and don’t own media rights.
“Let’s go where the users are,” that’s Weisz’ motto, not too different from Walker’s “need vs feed” approach.
So you need to get onto the platforms that matter to your organisation – be they Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Twitch or YouTube. According to Sölter, you need to have a content strategy that “makes people enjoy interacting with your content”.
Interaction is key for those football fans who like the thrill of betting and, if sports media outlets use betting data themselves, they can make informed decisions and rely on user data to create new targeting options or build storylines, just as Jason Sukhraj, SVP of Business Development at Sportradar US, recently suggested at FanVest.
Sports betting in media is definitely on the rise
Betting is also more than just an option for audience-tailored advertising solutions and is increasingly being used for content creation in the digital media landscape. As Variety reports, both ESPN and Turner’s Bleacher Report will launch production studios to create betting-related content while NBC has a betting program for its mobile app, with David Preschlack, president of NBC Sports Regional Networks, quoted as saying:
The market is going to be made up of more casual bettors. We feel the big opportunity here is to use sports betting to raise the entertainment value of sports programming.
Using betting as a factor to enable not just monetisation but engagement with sports and content is clearly becoming a trend in 2019 and that looks set to continue in the years to come. That’s one key strand to emerge from this year’s Spielmacher Konferenz as well as other similar industry-leading events.
According to Zion, the global sports betting market will reach a value of 155,49 billion US dollars by 2024, meaning financial growth is set to continue hand-in-hand with this landscape shift.
As a publisher or rights holder, the option to integrate betting ads in a user-centric way or even create betting-related content, which can be shared on various platforms, could be the cure for many of the sport media landscape’s current predicaments.