Having agreed to broadcast Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service (BAGS) greyhound racing on multiple digital verticals, SIS Commercial Director Paul Witten details to SBC the partnership plans which aim to open the sport to new consumers.
SBC: Hi Paul, SIS will have access to almost 30,000 BAGS greyhound races from 20 UK tracks and a remit to build a digital audience. What does the move for greyhound racing to digital media represent for the sport?
Paul Witten: We believe it represents a big step in the right direction. The days when betting was carried out purely through betting shops are long gone and the turnover on digital platforms is only going to increase. Of course, greyhound racing will continue to be part of the staple diet of the betting shop customer, but embracing the opportunities afforded by the digital world has to be a positive move for the sport.
SBC: Why has it taken so long to transfer greyhound racing through to digital channels? Has this impacted the sport’s overall demand?
PW: It is fair to say that there has been some resistance within the greyhound racing community and among some bookmakers, particularly because of the perceived impact on margins that moving towards digital might have. However, there is no escaping the fact that gross win and gross gambling yield on greyhound racing have been declining steadily for several years. We believe that enhancing the sport’s footprint to include the streaming of live action on digital platforms gives greyhound racing a sporting chance of reversing, that trend.
SBC: Beyond streaming, how will SIS and its partnership support greyhound racing in order to raise its profile?
PW: SIS has a long and proud history of bringing content to the betting industry and we are confident that this significant new arrangement will increase the visibility of greyhound racing among traditional and new betting customers. Greyhound racing and the products and services associated with it are at the core of SIS’s offering and we will be using our expert knowledge of the sport and the industry to maximise the impact of our streaming product.
SBC: With the initial launch of the streaming partnership, how will you gauge its long term and short term success?
PW: We hope the product will be popular with our customers and indeed, the initial signs are that there is serious interest in bringing a greyhound streaming service to market. Longer term success will be dictated by the degree of engagement with the sport in existing and emerging markets and will, we hope, be demonstrated by a measurable increase in betting turnover on the sport. It is not too much to hope that the greater visibility of the sport afforded by streaming to digital platforms will increase familiarity and engagement with greyhound racing among customers in both new and traditional betting contexts and that turnover in LBOs increases too.
SBC: Looking ahead to 2016, where do you want to see greyhound racing in 12 months time?
PW: SIS believes in working in partnership with sports authorities to grow products associated with their content to our mutual benefit, so we hope greyhound racing is in a healthy position in 12 months’ time. We hope the sport is still a strong and compelling feature of the content mix offered by bookmakers to their shop customers and that is also has a growing digital following in existing and new markets and territories.