SBC Digital Summit: “Partnerships will be proved in crisis” – Carsten Koerl

Sportradar CEO Carsten Koerl said that the strength of its partnerships will be “proved in crisis” after the postponement of almost all live sports events brought inevitable challenges and demanded quick changes to the company’s business strategy.

Delivering the day-one keynote at this week’s SBC Digital Summit, kicking off the Leadership in Betting track, Koerl told delegates that we should see the ongoing crisis as a “defining leadership moment” to deliver the best possible outcomes for all stakeholders.

He described starting out in the industry and creating the initial product offering (IPO) for bwin, formerly betandwin, before shifting his full focus to Sportradar – now a truly global full-service B2B data, betting, trading and player management platform business.

Moving on to address business continuity in the face of COVID-19, Koerl admitted that in the course of just a few days, Sportradar lost almost 90% of its “raw material or fuel” because sports matches were not being played.

As the full extent of the crisis became clear, Koerl’s thoughts turned to safeguarding his staff. “The first thing is employees,” he said. “How can I protect them, and give them clear guidance through transparent communication?”

The next most important thing, said Koerl, was to deliver value for the partners while sticking to the foundation or the roots of a partnership. 

Introducing how Sportradar had fixed its pipeline on the supply side to generate content in the absence of live sports, he also urged company leaders to be agile and innovative enough to navigate these “unprecedented times” without losing sight of the future.

Here, he noted Sportradar’s quick pivot to AI-driven Simulated Reality, virtual sports, esports and alternative live content. The Simulated Reality product, Koerl confirmed, went from initial concept to live in just over a week before servicing approximately 250 clients on the first day. 

Meanwhile, the company’s virtual sports range has been boosted by the launch of Euro Cup 2020, offering thousands of betting opportunities for 51 matches – the same number that would have taken place at this summer’s European football showpiece across 12 host cities.

Looking ahead, Koerl said that time away will “enhance appreciation of live sports”, adding that the current focus on alternative content will likely attract a younger and broader audience.

He summarised his keynote by saying: “For us, it is important to look to the employees and the partners, that’s the key message. Preserving liquidity and cash is very much needed at this time, so you need to do everything you can to maintain a strong balance sheet.”

Koerl concluded: “Stay optimistic. We are all in this together so let’s share and help each other. That is my message here to the Summit and I hope you enjoy this first virtual format.”

The SBC Digital Summit runs from 27 April to 1 May 2020, featuring seven conference tracks, a virtual exhibition and virtual networking lounges, attracting an estimated 10,000 delegates from around the world. There is still time to register for the event, with company discounts available HERE.

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