Billy Levy, Rivalry: With engagement everything is relative to your audience

For the marketing teams at Canadian esports betting operator Rivalry, content creation and applying lessons from the video game industry are central to its interactions with its target audience of Gen Z and millennial bettors.

Billy Levy, the firm’s EVP of Corporate Development, provided a detailed snapshot into what he and fellow panellists will be discussing at the SBC Summit Barcelona next month as he broke down Rivalry’s approach to engagement. Billy Levy, EVP of Corporate Development, Rivalry

How is the potential of sports streaming uniquely suited to the esports-focused operator?

Everything at Rivalry revolves around a Millennial and Gen Z cohort and their entertainment preferences. Streaming is of high importance for this cord-cutting audience and particularly aligned with esports, creating a lot of opportunities on platforms like Twitch and YouTube to engage customers.

This offers unique advantages to merge the viewing and betting experiences together. And with esports being digital, offers even more upside for how this intersection may develop in the future.

Would you say effective user engagement and content distribution provide the winning edge in a betting market that is competitive as ever?

Content distribution and engagement are central pieces to finding success in sports betting. Not only do you need to reach users where they are, but you also have to meet them on their entertainment level. 

This means working directly with creators, finding the right channels, and most importantly, producing content that offers actual value for the fan versus just telling them to “bet now.” Doing so successfully drives the organic interest, acquisition, and engagement that creates true business operating leverage.

Everything is relative to the audience you are trying to reach. At Rivalry, that’s a digitally native consumer born on the internet; finding ways to insert our brand at the heart of gaming, online trends, and entertainment is where we see the most value for what we’re trying to achieve.

Do esportsbook operators have the upper hand when it comes to gamification? Why would you say this is?

Having a product pointed toward young Millennial and Gen Z fans certainly creates more organic opportunities for gamification compared to others.

We are built for an audience that is used to highly engaging and interactive entertainment such as video games and have strikingly different habits and interests than the average 40-year old sports bettor. Traditional products and marketing that appeal to mature customers don’t resonate with a digital audience in the same way and often won’t move the needle.

From a product user standpoint, the online betting industry hasn’t changed all that much compared to other forms of entertainment. And with product speed and functionality ranking high among consumers’ list of reasons why they enjoy one sportsbook over another, it’s critical to stay at the cutting edge of what this ultimately looks and feels like for the customer.

At Rivalry, this has meant injecting an incredible amount of creativity into the sports betting and casino experience and wrapping entertainment around otherwise ordinary features. 

These changes are a lot more natural for the user when the brand is already rooted in gaming and internet culture, and is not something that can be as easily replicated when the target demographic is a more mature customer typically accustomed to a straightforward product with less bells and whistles. 

What lessons can bookmakers with a focus on traditional sports take from the esports space when it comes to gamification and player engagement?

We often look outside our industry at other great consumer products and find a lot of great inspiration with respect to how online betting may evolve in the future and is certainly something we have been working to trailblaze at Rivalry.

Video games are an excellent starting point. Games are enjoyed by billions of people globally and are the most popular form of entertainment among the next generation of fans. This is an incredibly important piece once you start to think about future-proofing your business for the industry’s consumer of tomorrow and building on top of the current foundation for sports betting to offer a more original and proprietary product.

The most important takeaway for us is that games are fun; they are engaging, rewarding, and entertaining. Playing games is an interactive experience, and our view is that there’s enormous potential for betting to grow in that direction. We believe the future of sports betting will be much more engaging, entertaining, and fun.

What benefits do sports and esports influencers and content creators bring to the table as part of a wider marketing and engagement strategy?

Influencers and creators are essential pieces of a successful marketing and engagement strategy. Younger fans are consuming sports differently, opting for social media highlights and creator content over live TV and traditional reporting. In fact, 48% of the content Gen Z consumes is from creators versus produced content, and is indicative of how entertainment preferences are shifting broadly.

Building a strategy around creators is key in reaching the next generation of fans and getting them engaged in your product, but it also matters how your brand and product is delivered too. Default betting advertisements are usually a paid celebrity spokesperson telling you to “bet now” or “get skin in the game.” 

This type of content is quickly tuned out by the viewer who is often already inundated by vanilla sports betting advertisements. At Rivalry we want to make great content that entertains people – makes them smile and laugh – and believe it is key in not only capturing a customer’s attention but also creating affinity for your brand.

How does Rivalry navigate the regulatory and compliance hurdles of combining streaming and viewership with a betting product? Rivalry

Our strategic approach to marketing naturally helps us avoid many of these hurdles. We are laser-focused on creating incredible entertainment for our fans and building a beloved brand first before anything else. The way that you do that is to forgo the inducements to bet and replace it with engaging and creative content that is additive to the fan experience. 

When done correctly, you don’t need to subsidize player activity or engage in other morally ambiguous advertising because the organic interest and buzz around your brand builds the awareness and loyalty that then acquires and engages customers.

What will be your main talking points on this panel and why should attendees visit the session?

Rivalry is very close to this topic and has an interesting perspective on how to create fun, engaging, and custom sports betting experiences that offer something unique to customers. 

We’re excited to talk about the runway in sports betting for more of this type of innovation, whether that’s redesigning staple products in the space or providing a unique point of view on how the industry can better market to and engage consumers, particularly those within the Millennial and Gen Z demographic.

Esports plays an interesting role not only at the intersection of sports betting and streaming, but is also relevant to how operators can differentiate themselves and reach unique audiences. Few operators have found success in this category and we’re excited to make the case for esports in the current betting paradigm.

There will be plenty of unique insights between everyone on the panel and their expertise – this session is a must-attend.


SBC Summit Barcelona is a leading global betting and iGaming show with a comprehensive high-level conference, a programme of major product launches, and a 300-booth expo. Click HERE to view the conference agenda and tickets.

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