As online sports betting proliferated globally and grew in popularity, while the adrenaline-fuelled excitement of winning on a big football game created a significant opportunity for operators and suppliers, there was one glaring drawback.
The seasonality and set schedule of sporting events prohibits the amount of bets an operator can take, meaning there has traditionally been a ceiling on the potential of the vertical.
That is, until live studios were created. Studios offered the possibility of having sporting action taking place 24/7, opening up opportunities for revenue generation around the clock.
Another key technological development to enhance the sports betting opportunity is the advent of esports, which have attracted bigger and bigger audiences each year.
Sport Generate, part of the Digitain Group, is one of the companies which is harnessing the opportunity offered by live studios and esports betting offerings.
The firm seeks to offer operators high-quality and engaging live sports and esports betting products to help them capitalise on 24/7 betting experiences that are proving popular among players globally.
Here, speaking exclusively with SBC News, Sport Generate CEO Simon Westbury talks all about the firm’s first 12 months of growth and how it product portfolio is helping create engaging gaming experiences.
SBC: Sport Generate features some familiar industry faces, but people may know less about the company itself. Could you begin by introducing the brand and its products?
Simon Westbury: Over the past 12 months we have created a strong foundation for Sport Generate as part of the Digitain Group. I am extremely proud to lead the team that we have built and I truly believe we have laid the foundations for future success.
We have spent the last 12 months fine tuning our existing products and building our new product range. The vision for Sport Generate is to offer the industry high end boutique products that enhance their existing portfolios. After a year focused on recruitment and product development, I am chomping at the bit to get out and start spreading the news about Sport Generate.
Although officially formed in early 2023, we were delighted to welcome the existing Rocket Masters Cup and Cyber Masters brands into our portfolio. During 2023, we fine-tuned these products, streamlining the offering to offer the highest level of table tennis and esports to the market. We have doubled our monthly output of events which has resulted in increased revenues, bet amounts and GGR.
In terms of our new products, we have developed a fully managed esports API product which, even if I do so say myself, has the most stunning, immersive and interactive design of any of the products on the market. This is coupled with official data sources which, in my opinion, will become an industry defining product.
Finally, we have spent the last twelve months developing a flexible, commercially-positioned odds feed product, offering over 130,000 monthly events, 15,000 leagues and 3,000 markets all delivered through one API. Coupled with an intuitive and user-friendly back office, I am sure this product will also take the market by storm.
SBC: Esports betting has been the ”next big thing” in the gambling world for a number of years; are you still optimistic that it will become a truly mainstream product?
SW: The answer depends on what is regarded as mainstream, as many sports betting products can be regionally popular but not global or mainstream. For example, Bandy is a winter sport that is very popular in Scandinavian countries but wouldn’t be considered mainstream.
In terms of esports, there is no doubt the market is growing, as Statista is forecasting over 640 million global viewers for esports by 2025. The addressable market for active video gamers worldwide is reported at around three billion, representing about 37% of the world’s total population (eight billion). So, the market is large and growing. This can be further evidenced by the millions of dollars available in prize money for esports tournaments and the hundreds of millions invested by big brands in sponsorships.
The real question is, how do existing sports betting operators provide a compelling experience to a digital native who loves esports, plays esports and would like to turn that knowledge or opinion into a potential betting outcome?
That piece of the product experience or touchpoint is still evolving and some operators are doing better than others in creating esports as a destination vertical, rather than just a menu option in the 24-hour betting calendar at the UI level.
I’m still optimistic, as the timeline is like igaming in the beginning; you had sportsbooks, who only offered sports betting, and then came along online casino. You had casinos looking to add sports betting to their product portfolio, especially around key events such as the European Championships and World Cup. Did they get it right the first time? A lot didn’t, but they all understood the importance of understanding player behaviour and creating product vertical experiences for those customer groups and eventually introduced CRM and vertical cross-selling. The same shall happen with eSports in due course and I am sure Sport Generate’s new esports product will be industry-defining.
SBC: There are a range of betting-optimised esports products now available to sportsbooks; what makes Sport Generate’s offering an attractive choice for operators?
SW: Firstly, as part of the wider Digitain Group, our business embraced esports at an early stage. We saw the nascent demand and created our esports betting proposition for the sportsbook platform, for operator partners looking for a point of difference in the marketplace or, if you wish, first-mover advantage.
From a product design standpoint, our team are gamers, so they understand the space exceptionally well end-to-end. Expertise in any business counts and we have that in our back pocket, so we were able to create the tournaments, events, markets, and odds/risk management. I am exceptionally proud of the design of our new product and how it effortlessly blends with official data, offering the most comprehensive product on the market that is available through one integration.
Fast-forward, we have a robust esports odds and data solution, with various commercial consumption models to suit sportsbooks or multi-product operators’ requirements to enter the esports betting vertical or replace their incumbent provider. We have something for everyone, no matter the current size of their online betting business.
SBC: Table tennis has become the industry’s standout ”live sport” product, enjoying huge success everywhere from Colorado to Nigeria. Why do you believe it is so popular with players?
SW: The participation numbers vary, but some forecasts suggest 40 million plus competitive table tennis players globally. At the recent Tokyo Olympics (2020), it was estimated that around 350 million fans/players watched the events, and in the UK, Table Tennis England has stated that nearly 400,000 players enjoy the sport.
The table tennis audience is large and growing, and that popularity is driven by the skill in the game and the fast pace of gameplay. That may be caused by people having shorter attention spaces and less available leisure time. Therefore, table tennis, as a spectator sport, has all that energy, served quickly, and as an athlete playing, the skill, agility, and turn of serve are unique and powerful.
I also believe table tennis benefitted from the pandemic, filling a void when there was a dearth of other sports. This created a new loyal customer base which enjoys the fast paced, exhilarating nature of the sport.
SBC: What makes Sport Generate’s table tennis offering different, and what sort of results have operator partners enjoyed from integrating it?
SW: Over the last twelve months, we have made large efforts in improving the current product in terms of competitiveness and standard of the sportsmen, as well as the environment that they work in. We have added a new studio which is compliant with Olympic standards and we have also introduced A + B leagues to ensure that games are always competitive. This has led to an increased number of events for our customers.
In terms of the benefit to our customers, we have seen GGR grow by over 100% and we have also focused on delivering an improved stable margin for our customers to ensure partner success. Here we have been fortunate to draw on the existing trading resource within Digitain.
This has given us a solid basis to expand our operations, where we will be adding another six Table Tennis Studios in 2024, as well as developing an AI system to allow for further player engagement through an AI overlay detailing ball speed as well as offering new micro-betting opportunities. In 2024, we will also begin our exclusive engagement with the Armenian Table Tennis Federation (ATFF) in which we have exclusive rights to live stream five of their tournaments.
An important component of this partnership to me, and it touches on my earlier point about growing participation in Table Tennis Globally, is the commitment from Sport Generate to promote table tennis in Armenia, through not just increased funding to the ATFF but also a commitment to social corporate responsibility. I am proud to say Sport Generate has committed to providing equipment to aid the Armenian Table Tennis Federation grow the sport in Armenia, but also to provide table tennis tables in parks not just in the capital Yerevan but also Gyumri and Vanadzor.
SBC: What can people who visit the Sport Generate booth at ICE look forward to seeing?
SW: You can visit our stand at S4-538 and be assured of a warm, friendly and professional greeting from our sales and account management team.
We shall be on hand to demonstrate our product services and how Sport Generate can elevate your business throughout 2024.