Having recently broadened its Sports Media product portfolio with the launch DP World Tour ShotTracker, it’s busy times for IMG ARENA. Executive VP and Managing Director Freddie Longe took time out to talk about all things IMG ARENA and what lies in store for 2022.
Last month saw IMG ARENA launch ShotTracker, a highly-sophisticated new media data product that provides a wealth of information for golf fans and builds on the success of the firm’s Golf Event Centre.
Explaining more about the innovation, Executive VP and Managing Director Freddie Longe said: “A part of our Sports Media product portfolio, DP World Tour ShotTracker is one of the most sophisticated sports data products ever created and builds on the success of the Golf Event Centre.
“This is an exciting extension to our relationship with DP World Tour and, through our technology, will give golf fans greater insight into how their favourite players are performing and how the tournaments are unfolding. It is a completely fresh way to engage with the sport as part of our ongoing commitment to enhance the fan experience.”
Sports fans and consumers can get to enjoy products like this through the various points of distribution IMG ARENA is establishing, said Longe. He noted: “Our Golf Event Centre went live in 2020 and the roll out is happening at pace. We have a large number of soon-to-launch tier one and two sportsbook operators currently integrating the products as well as an additional range of future digital customers where conversations are gathering pace.
On how that will align with all that OpenBet brings to the fold, he stated: “The closing of the OpenBet acquisition is still subject to regulatory approval, which is anticipated later in 2022. The principal products we deploy within IMG ARENA’s Sports Betting pillar are live streaming, fast path data and our immersive front-end solutions, which can be modularised—either packaged or sold as isolated component parts.
“This is the very logical point at which the IMG ARENA and OpenBet businesses would support each other. By providing sportsbook operators with the platform, engine and content to deliver a world-class sports betting proposition for fans around the globe.”
Looking ahead to the remainder of 2022, Longe cited territorial expansion as being a priority for the firm, driven primarily out of the US with the brisk pace of regulation changes there, but also recognising that there is global support for the adoption and acceptance of digital sports betting as a form of entertainment.
Another big development, said Longe, is sport expansion. “In Europe, historically a lot of the focus is around football, but the landscape is evolving,” he commented. “For us, golf is still nascent as a proposition and therefore an incredibly exciting growth opportunity as the perfect in-play betting sport, but you’re also seeing all sorts of additional sports entering in the fray.
“Tennis enjoyed massive growth during the COVID pandemic, and niche sports like cycling, pickleball, and padel tennis grew in popularity as well. Sportsbooks are broadening their horizons to meet the needs of the modern fan.”
Longe also believes that there is more to come this year on the product development front, which will be fuelled by unprecedented levels of technological advancement and, in particular, the types and depth of data available.
He said: “When you think about the modern sports fan, they’re very technologically sophisticated and demand incredible levels of innovation and consumer experiences. As a consequence, I expect we’re going to see a huge amount of ongoing diversification of product offerings. And it’s an exciting opportunity for IMG ARENA to play a role in that
“The US, in particular, is a completely blank canvas, so we are seeing a lot more creative thinking and convergence between rights holders, sports betting and sports media. There is a potential future where rights holders become sportsbooks, where sportsbooks become broadcasters, where broadcasters become sports betting operators.
“And IMG ARENA is well-positioned to sit right in the middle of all of that given our vast relationships across those various ecosystems.”
The full interview with Freddie Longe will be published in the next issue of SBC Leaders Magazine to be published in March.