Sticking to the sports calendar and playing a part in the regular football fan’s ‘ritual’ is key to the setup for Sportradar’s Simulated Reality, said the firm’s MD for US Betting Werner Becher.
Sportradar launched the AI-driven product at the end of March, making it immediately available to customers as part of its existing portfolio of betting events.
The product draws upon Sportradar’s historical football database and statistical output to provide match data, offering both pre-match and live betting markets for top-tier football leagues in England, Germany and Spain.
With many people currently living in lockdown or furloughed from work, you might argue that scheduling has lost importance for sports bettors. Unless you are still living your normal life, why would your appetite for placing a bet be highest at the ‘normal’ time?
Yet for Becher, developing a product that aligns with real matches, and the schedule to which they would have been played, was a “clear goal” for the Simulated Reality project.
He said: “With Simulated Reality it was our clear goal to develop a product that is very similar to real matches and provides sports fans with what they are missing: scheduled sports matches.
“Customers are used to placing bets, on football matches in particular, at specific times during the week. It’s a familiar part of a fans football ritual and it’s that familiarity that is part of Simulated Reality’s appeal.”
In keeping with this theme of “familiarity”, Becher explained that all matches that were originally scheduled between the final games actually played and the launch of the Simulated Reality product will be simulated in mid-week – “as would be the case in the real world”. For the Premier League, that covers all matches lost in the three weeks that followed Leicester vs Aston Villa on 9 March.
He added: “Where possible, we plan to fulfil the remaining fixtures of each league and crown a champion on each country’s final day of the season as per the original schedules. If that’s not possible, due to the sheer volume of games on offer, we’ll schedule them as close to the final fixtures as possible.”
As things stand, there is obviously a lot of uncertainty around when football’s biggest leagues will resume. Germany’s Bundesliga is reportedly closing on a return, so what would happen if the real thing is back before the simulations are due to conclude in mid-May?
“There’s still much uncertainty about the return of live sport,” said Becher. “If live football was to come back tomorrow, we would expect them to complete their remaining fixtures at a later date than originally scheduled.”
Simulated betting markets will, therefore, be available to customers until the original end of season dates – regardless of how quickly the leagues can return. This could actually provide a real credential test for the Sportradar modelling, should postponements continue or re-emerge in the future.
Becher agreed by saying: “By the time the leagues return, the Simulated Reality leagues – having followed the original fixture list – will likely be completed. It will be interesting to see, when they do return, how realistic the outcomes of our Simulated Reality games are when compared to the real games, and if the same teams came out as champions.”
Launching the product three weeks ago, Sportradar said it planned to extend its Simulated Reality product to several other leagues and competitions. So what are the other sports involved?
Becher concluded: “We have recently launched Simulated Reality cricket and offer T20 matches from Australia, England and India. We will very soon launch a tennis product and offer events each week covering tournaments in London, Madrid, Paris and Rome as scheduled. Looking to the future, we are developing a basketball version and evaluating some other sports as well.”