The third panel of day one on the SBC Leaders track at this week’s Barcelona Summit dived into a topic that has been on the minds of many over the past year – the convergence of media and betting.
Appearing on the discussion were three speakers with extensive experience of this field – DAZN CEO Shay Segev, shortly after delivering his keynote speech, LiveScore Group CEO Sam Sadi and WSC Sports CEO and Co-Founder Daniel Shichman.
Kickstarting the debate, moderator Simon Bold was keen to hear the perspective of Segev, whose DAZN made trade publication headlines with the launch of its DAZN Bet sportsbook earlier this year, backed by Pragmatic Play and an extensive recruitment strategy.
Reiterating his argument from earlier in the day, Segev remarked: “We don’t see ourselves as a betting business, we are not a betting business and will never be a betting business. We see betting as an addition to the sports experience.”
He continued that DAZN does not want ‘to be a bet365’, with sports betting forming just one periphery of its wider operations – the company’s goal, Segev emphasised, is to operate as a wide reaching sports entertainment enterprise.
“We don’t put betting at the centre like a betting company – we put the customer at the centre, and allow them to consume whatever they want,” he said.
Finding common ground with Segev, Sadi agreed with his fellow CEO’s assessment that ‘convergence is going to happen’ – and ‘needs to happen’, no matter which angle it takes, whether this be media focused or betting oriented.
“It’s clear why they need to do it,” Sadi asserted, addressing why gambling companies are becoming increasingly drawn to media, examining the topic from the opposite perspective of DAZN, a media company which has become involved in betting.
“The traditional gambling model doesn’t work anymore, the margins are not what they used to be and operators need to look for different ways to acquire users.”
Returning to the media-betting perspective, he added: “Even if you’re in the media space, you can’t be satisfied with delivering sports and taking advertising and subscription revenues.
“You recognise that sports is the product and you want to cover it with as much experiences as you can.”
Providing a breakdown of LiveSocre’s own operations, he noted some contrast to DAZN, however. In Sadi’s view, LiveScore is a gambling operator, in stark contrast to Segev’s assessment that DAZN does not fit into this bracket despite its new sportsbook.
“We are an online gambling operator,” the CEO said. “We added LIveScore Bet to our ecosystem and are trying to work on the friction that exists between a sports media audience and the betting experience.
“Will we buy media rights? We have done so, we are broadcasting of Champions League in Ireland. At the top of the funnel is a world class sportsbook, and we are looking at scaling that to different territories.”
The betting and media ‘funnel’ that both Segev and Sadi referred to was a common theme throughout the panel, with all three speakers emphasising the need to get to the top of it.
Offering a different angle to his co-speakers, Shichman approached the debate from WSC’s perspective, a sports media group which he noted had been advised not to pursue sportsbook ambitions – guidance the company took on board.
He did however, share Segev and Sadi’s viewpoint that increased convergence between betting and media is an inevitability – and a positive one at that – due to the diverse product range available to today’s consumers.
“A lot of fans might watch a live stream, but they have the ability to watch specific content at the right time on the right platform, which really boosts engagement and the way we can monetise it.”
Over at DAZN, the group’s ambition is to maintain its position at the top of said funnel, Segev remarked, via extensive partnerships with and coverage of sports leagues and fixtures.
“We partner with the leagues and bring in consumers in an easier way to consume this content, and ideally do it in a more entertaining way,” he explained DAZN’s business model.
Concluding, WSC’s Shichman predicted that increased convergence between sports media and betting will have a positive impact for both sectors, and in particular for fans.
“We are happy to ride the wave, but ultimately these guys are trying to improve sports and as a fan it’s a good thing,” he said.
“Everyone across the industry is recognising the importance of customer acquisition and retention through engagement and entertainment, and then offering betting.”