For those that are able to innovate and take advantage of these short-term opportunities, the rewards could potentially be significant
Warren MurphyWarren Murphy is managing director of betting and gaming at Sportradar where he leads a global team which helps deliver a comprehensive offering of solutions in this sphere.
These have been unprecedented times for everyone involved in sport. Having been hit hard by the cancellation or postponement of a huge number of sporting fixtures and events as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, betting operators and suppliers have had to rapidly adapt to withstand global pressures and to continue to drive revenues.
Be it through new product development, alternative content or the ‘virtualising’ of business strategies, those who have put innovation at the heart of their approach have come to the fore during this difficult period.
While society needs to be careful with regard to the speed with which it attempts to return to some form of normality, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel. For the sports industry this means the prospect of live action returning in some form in the coming months.
There will no doubt be an enhanced appreciation of live sport when it comes back, with fans ready to consume in new ways - and this means there will be many further commercial and innovation opportunities.
When sport begins to return, it looks likely to be in a behind-closed-doors-style format, which brings with it complications. The industry will again need to adapt as we enter further uncharted territory, but, once more, for those that are able to innovate and take advantage of these short-term opportunities, the rewards could potentially be significant.
Looking across the globe, safe steps are being taken for a return where possible. In the football world, the South Korean K-League is due to kick off in the coming days behind closed doors, while similar attempts are being readied by the German Bundesliga and Italian Serie A among others in the next few weeks.
Elsewhere, we have seen darts innovate through the introduction of the PDC Home Tour as players land 180s live from their living rooms. In tennis, meanwhile, the Tennis Point Exhibition Series has been introduced – a series of events without the presence of fans and with further social distancing measures put in place.
It represents a great example of companies collaborating to use technology in new and innovative ways at the fast-paced speed required to bring sport back to our screens, while also respecting the measures we are all taking to fight the pandemic
At Sportradar, tennis has been a key focus for us given our involvement in helping to bring the Tennis Point Exhibition Series to life. We are providing Tennis Channel with data production and integrity monitoring services as well as a state-of-the-art OTT solution for the series via the new Tennis Channel International app.
Sportradar has joined forces with Tennis Channel, Tennis-Point.de, Base Tennis, PlaySight and several others to set this tournament up. It represents a great example of companies collaborating to use technology in new and innovative ways at the fast-paced speed required to bring sport back to our screens, while also respecting the measures we are all taking to fight the pandemic.
The lack of live sport has led to an increased appetite for alternative forms of betting and we have responded to this with a series of innovative new products. One example is Simulated Reality, our new AI-driven sports betting product that plays out all the season’s remaining football fixtures as per their original date and kick-off time over the full 90 minutes, offering our customers a betting entertainment category that matches the real-life experience.
We have considered concepts like this for some time, but the time was right to launch now given the lack of live sport and the challenges the betting industry is facing. We have more than 20 years of data intelligence and technology expertise to rapidly scale and create a unique product that both provides sports fans with entertainment and helps our partners generate additional revenue.
Elsewhere, to meet the increased demand for alternative forms of betting, Sportradar has also significantly increased its output of events such as virtual gaming and esports – adding to our portfolio, for example, with the release of the Euro Cup 2020 virtual gaming product.
It is an innovative approach to sports products and tournaments like this that has helped Sportradar sustain its delivery of sports content and coverage despite the lack of live sports globally. In a typical month, we provide live coverage for approximately 20,000 matches worldwide, but mid-April 2020 saw this increase by more than 11 per cent to 24,000, which helped increased our live odds coverage by 30 per cent and live data by 20 per cent compared to April last year.
We are delighted with these results but they crucially also serve as evidence that we must always be able to quickly pivot our strategy and constantly evaluate and re-evaluate our products and services.
Like the rest of the sports industry, we will need to adapt once more as live sport begins to return, and innovation and speed of response will continue to be crucial in the coming months.