Back in February, racing content and sports data provider SIS (Sports Information Services) launched its new esports-focused Competitive Gaming, a betting product tailored to esports sportsbooks.
In a catch up with the Head of Product Propositions at SIS, Rohini Sardana, we discussed how the first month has been for Competitive Gaming. Sardana told SBC about the decision behind the expansion into esports, and the challenges faced in capturing a new audience.
SBC: Esports has quickly grown in popularity in recent years, and many in the industry – both operators and suppliers – have attempted to grow their portfolio. What is it that differentiates SIS from other esports betting suppliers?
RS: Our new SIS Competitive Gaming product is different to what currently exists in the marketplace, in that it is the only esports betting product that has been designed and optimised for sportsbooks.
When undertaking extensive research into the sector, it was clear that while the potential of esports was huge, there is an opportunity to develop an esports betting product which truly appeals to sports bettors. SIS Competitive Gaming includes markets that are easy to understand for bettors, and the Watch & Bet format is a proven model to increase revenues, as it makes the content accessible for all bettors.
SBC: The approach from SIS differs from other standard esports offerings, in that SIS is creating the gaming competition. What was the reason behind this approach?
RS: In aiming to develop an esports betting product that was relatively straightforward to understand for bettors, and akin to the type of events that they are currently used to bet on, the best way to achieve this was to develop our own ‘Head to Head’ gaming tournaments.
We know that short-form betting events are a proven formula to attract and retain bettors, with results confirmed within minutes, which help to keep bettors engaged for longer periods of time. The tournaments that we offer through SIS Competitive Gaming reflect this, with quick-fire events available on head-to-head matches between qualified gamers.
It’s also an innovative approach to esports betting that is already attracting great interest from operators of all sizes, with approximately 15,000 events being broadcast across the year.
SBC: How does SIS plan to capture the audience that would otherwise not engage in esports?
RS: That’s perhaps one of the biggest challenges that operators face when offering esports markets. While the online community that regularly engages with this type of content and format, will understand markets such as “Next Map Winner”, the vast number of existing sports bettors will be unaware of what that means exactly and will be reluctant to place any sort of wager on such an event.
The key to converting sports bettors that will engage with esports betting is to make the whole experience easy for them to understand. There also needs to be the availability of free-to-view live pictures of tournaments, something which isn’t available at present, with many bettors having to switch tabs between the live streams and their betting account.
SBC: During the product launch at ICE, Integrity was identified as a key point. How important is upholding integrity in the esports world?
RS: The potential of esports betting is huge, but the integrity of the whole experience has often come into question and it’s an area that we have taken very seriously when developing SIS Competitive Gaming. Bettors need to feel comfortable when placing real money on these markets, which is why we’ve worked closely with the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC).
In addition, operators who outsource their pricing through third-party suppliers such as ourselves will have peace of mind that the odds being produced are accurate, as our team of specialist esports traders are able to monitor the markets and quickly change any palpable errors.