Ahead of ICE 2016, SBC speaks to Michael März, Managing Director of Sports Betting at Sportradar regarding the changing nature of sports betting operations , which have witnessed new demands placed by clients on their suppliers provisions.
März details to SBC readers how Sportradar subsidiary Betradar has developed effective operations with new products/services in order to meet changing client demands, in an evolving market place.
SBC: Hi Michael, how is Betradar diversifying and developing its product range and services in 2016?
Michael März: It’s difficult to know where to start. One of our most recent product additions, Mythical Sports, allows punters to bet on an artificially created fixture by matching two teams from two actual but separate fixtures against each other. It is currently available for two competitions in Mythical Soccer, the European Elite League and the European Pro League. The plans for 2016 are to expand Mythical Soccer into Asian, African and Latin American leagues as well as to create additional sports such as Mythical Basketball and Mythical Ice Hockey.
Another addition is our World Numbers Service: a comprehensive betting solution for retail betting shops providing visualisation and live streaming of real lottery draws. Access to live lottery draws from around the world every three minutes, 24 hours a day, with fast and accurate data transmission to the highest security standards enables operators to capitalise on one of the fastest growing global betting sectors.
Furthermore, we are working on a brand new trading application: Betradar Ctrl. In recent years, the sports betting industry has undergone a radical transformation and the demands of today differ from those of yesterday. Our response: Betradar Ctrl – an entirely new front-end and back-end system, which will replace the current betradar.com interface. Developed in close co-operation with our clients, the new system supports all trading requirements more efficiently by simplifying and streamlining processes and workflows.
Despite having numerous high quality products, I feel confident that the Managed Trading Services will be one of the stars this year. As the latest trend has seen automation and outsourcing of live betting operations as increasingly attractive, this service meets those demands head on. The Managed Trading Services enable bookmakers to streamline their processes and to increase their competitiveness by developing and providing a full spectrum of fully customisable outsourcing options and packages.
SBC: Assessing product development, what new services and product demands are your clients requesting? What customer and market trends/needs do you feel your clients are trying to address?
MM: In terms of product demand, eSports is definitely right up there. Thanks to our partnership with ESL, we are perfectly positioned to offer odds on eSports and are currently in the process of rolling out pre-match and in-play betting on the three most popular titles – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends and Dota2 – with others such as Call of Duty, Hearthstone and Starcraft in the pipeline. In addition to supplying odds to the industry, we also deliver live scores, statistics and video streams.
Some customer requests are easier to fulfil than others, but we always do our best to meet them. During the development of Betradar Ctrl we engaged with some of our clients from a very early stage– from gathering and prioritising requirements to demo-ing prototypes, always collecting tremendously valuable feedback. So, client needs were included from the get-go and I believe this has made a huge difference, both in terms of what the final product will look like and also in terms of client satisfaction and engagement. Feedback of this nature only helps us craft a solution that really addresses real needs in a practical way.
SBC: Your team has been effective at developing multiple data products for the needs of numerous stakeholders, which can be no easy task! How has this been achieved and what has your organisation learnt from these partnerships?
MM: We constantly strive to develop cutting-edge solutions and services that are driven by technological innovation and a deep understanding of our clients’ business needs. But it’s more than just providing solutions and services, it’s about engaging with our industry to fully understand what they need to support their business objectives and I believe this is reflected by several partnerships. For example, we were delighted to recently announce the extension of our partnership with the ITF. The last four years have been incredibly fruitful: we have developed a new market for our clients and partners and we have also boosted the commercial value of the ITF’s live data and existing digital products. In addition, we have successfully extended our footprint in the U.S. The NHL’s rich content for example is a tremendous addition to the Sportradar portfolio. Not only will we provide the fastest NHL data directly from the rink, but our development team will use this data within a dynamic new suite of visual products and applications that will enhance the hockey experience for fans. It’s also about being passionate about the games we cover and why Sportradar’s business is strongly focused on protecting sporting integrity. Our Fraud Detection System (which helps discover suspicious odds movements across 11 sports, over 250 competitions, and over 65,000 fixtures per year) and our Fraud Prevention Service (providing interactive education workshops and e-learning modules for those wanting to raise awareness and upgrade defences against match-fixing) are used by sporting federations and law enforcement agencies around the world to stamp out match fixing.
SBC: Working with multiple organisations within the betting sectors value chain, a market which has witnessed severe change in 2015. Coming into a new year what key factors and contexts should lead the industry’s agenda?
MM: Along with an increase in product complexity, we’re seeing further consolidation, new approaches to local and global taxation and ever-changing regulations. There’s also the ongoing challenge for operators to lower their operational costs, retain their customers in the face of intensifying competition, and be adaptable so they can take advantage of new ways to exploit this massive growth in mobile betting and gaming. It is likely that all your readers are aware that eSports is a $612m market, and that there are 134 million viewers of these competitions worldwide. Therefore, eSports will be most definitely a hot topic in 2016. Understanding the eSports landscape, the intricacies of the various games, their different fans, and where to acquire customers is crucial for success. With eSports, bookmakers can increase their portfolio by thousands of fixtures per year and thus diversify their product offer. Betradar provides everything needed for creating and managing any bookmaker’s eSports betting offer, meeting the same high quality standards clients expect from us. The collection and maintenance of all sports data is conducted by us, based on official fixtures and schedules delivered by ESL.
SBC: Assessing the Betradar product line how do you feel your services will be changed by new advancements in technology?
MM: As a result of the increasing product complexity in the betting industry and the dynamic growth of in-play betting, the infrastructure of sportsbook operators must be perfectly synchronized with their data provider’s feeds. In-play betting in particular requires an increased investment in the bookmaker’s technology to give punters the opportunity to place their bets in real-time and to immediately settle their bets. Being able to provide immediate and accurate information is essential. And as today’s bookmakers can offer literally thousands of live betting markets on sports events around the world – the operator who has a truly holistic, cost-effective solution is the one that will stay ahead of the pack. To ensure we maintain our market-leading position, we need to look beyond simply adding new sports, leagues and markets. A clear product differentiator, combined with continuous innovation and investment in new technologies is needed. Betradar Ctrl is a good example on how we use latest technologies as well as market feedback. In addition to that, the development of new betting experiences will be a key priority for the business. Virtual sports betting for example offers 24/7 entertainment for punters with unlimited betting opportunities and fast pay-outs. We are currently working on the implementation of new exciting virtual sports products, based on state-of-the-art motion capturing. For our Live Channel, we are on the verge of offering previously unexpected opportunities for streaming products within the betting industry by offering low signal latency that provides the best possible live betting set-up.
Michael März – Director of Sports Betting – Sportradar