Betting stakeholders don’t need to look far to see the overwhelming importance of data in the fast-paced sector, heavily driven by bet builders and stats-wagering markets.
As the year comes to a close with the 2022 FIFA World Cup, if one was to cast a look back over the year they would see it is littered with data partnerships between sports leagues/associations, distributors and operators.
The international heavyweights of Genius Sports, Sportradar and Stats Perform of course come to mind, whilst this month data’s betting significance was demonstrated when Betby acquired Statscore ahead of the World Cup.
With the blockbuster betting event in Qatar now approaching the final stages, we took a look back at a panel discussion from the SBC Summit Barcelona earlier this year, which examined how operators should approach this seemingly endless mountain of never ending data?
“We don’t need any more data, but we do need to do more with the data we have,” Jamie McKittrick, Kambi’s SVP Commercial Operations outlined to the audience.
“Most sportsbooks will saturate 150,000-180,000 live events, and beyond that it’s impossible to make a case for it. You can buy data for over 400,000 sports events a year, so we definitely don’t need anymore data.
“We have reached a saturation point where it gets very hard to justify the cost benefit decision to take on and integrate additional or new data sources.”
Agreeing with McKittrick, Hristo Spasov, Intralot’s Director Sports Betting, added that the industry has ‘more data than we can digest’ – the task now is for operators to correctly leverage data and extract its value.
In order to do this, firms need to recognise the varying market preferences for different sports, highlighting golf in Spain as an example. There is ‘no market’ for golf in Spain and therefore investment in data would offer no return, he explained.
Spasov continued: “From the operator’s point of view everyone needs to find the right balance for the value of data to their customers.
“If you have the same amount of customers and the same markets available, I don’t think that will bring more value out of the customer. It has to be packaged in the right way and have product innovation.”
Adding his own perspective, IMG Arena’s Eireann Kelly – the firm’s Product Manager – highlighted tennis as an example of product being ‘ubiquitous’ with betting, but presenting challenges from a data collection perspective as more data points open up.
To address these hurdles, firms must look at how the data is packaged Kelly asserted – a sentiment shared by many of his co-panelists, although he added that for this to be realised more data is needed, diverging from his fellow speakers.
Kelly continued to comment on data integration whilst continuing to use tennis as an example, examining the debate from the perspective of a data provider.
“The next level of data would be a rally summary, for example. how was a point won, how many shots were in the rally?” he said. “Now even if data providers just provide that as a data feed and we ask operators to process it, that won’t happen. It will take two or three years for that to be realised.
It is on the data providers to provide finished products, such as bet builders that are ready to be integrated, markets that are ready to be capitalised on, and create visualisations with those that tell that story.
“A rally summary, if it’s just a data feed, wouldn’t work – but if it is packaged right I think it can, and so I would advocate that more data is required.”
Finding common ground with Kelly, Dominik Beier, Managing Director at e|motion, added that ultimately all data providers want to bring on more and broaden their offering, and every operator wants to diversify and enhance its content.
However, companies need to tailor their data-based content to the different requirements of sporting markets – again requiring the right packaging.
Beier added: “If you have the same amount of customers and there’s already a big range of events, sports and markets available, I don’t think that will bring more value out of the customer, one or two additional markets won’t do that. It has to be packaged in a different way.”
The e|motion MD used esports as an example, potining to how when these markets first hit the betting scene, they were packaged in a similar way to traditional sports such as football, racing and tennis, with poor results.
“Putting esports as another sport on your platform will not bring in more revenue, and that’s the same if you put another market on your platform, that’s not going to bring you revenue just because there’s one more market.
“It all comes back to the question about which product innovation and what journey can an operator do to increase the customer lifetime value.”
Reiterating their arguments, McKittrick, Kelly and Superbet’s Ivan Gojic all highlighted different areas operators and data providers should factor in.
For Gojic, the ultimate focus should be on enhancing the product offering and player experience, with Superbet’s Head of IP Trading stating: “We have a system where everybody earns their share, and we should give back some to society, such as the customer.
“We can improve so a customer doesn’t have to wait 10,15,20 seconds to place a bet. There is saturation in the market, there are a lot of caveats in it and a lot of underlying areas we should be aware of.”
Meanwhile, Kelly noted the importance of rights holders in the data journey – pointing to how organisations such as the UFC, which controls official rights and images of its events, or golf broadcasters which are incorporating odds into their coverage.
In Kelly’s view, the ‘narrative on sports betting is being driven by rights holders’, and these important stakeholders are going to play a key role in ‘growing the world of sports betting’ for all involved.
Lastly, McKittrick found some shared opinions with Kelly on the need for more data, but maintained his earlier viewpoint that the current environment is saturated, and more is only needed in certain circumstances.
“As new markets emerge and new products become important, we will need new data for that and will need to integrate it, but I think we have reached the full point of investment for the traditional sports we already have,” he remarked.