A seasoned marketing executive who previously headed up the sportsbook division at 888 Holdings, Yuval Benyamini joined content platform WSC Sports in February 2021 as Head of Betting Business Development.
Fast forward just a few months and we learned that WSC Sports had teamed up with Sportradar to launch the sports betting sector’s first ‘Live Video Notification’ push service.
We caught up with both Benyamini and Patrick Mostboeck, Global Director Video & Streaming Products at Sportradar, to discuss the growing role of video in the sports betting ecosystem, how it works in tandem with live streaming, removing the ‘biggest barrier’ in development time and why live video notifications are just the start.
SBC: I wanted to just start with some background on WSC Sports for our readers. Yuval, can you kick us off with a brief overview?
Yuval Benyamini (YB): WSC Sports is a content platform. Using AI and machine learning, we automatically tag and index live sports events as they happen. Every single event that happens within a game is ranked by importance.
This allows the system to automatically create personalised short-form highlights for every match, player, team or action within the game and publish it to a variety of destinations. It also means that after a game is concluded users have an indexed library of content for future use.
WSC Sports is currently working with more than 150 leagues and broadcasters around the world, including the NBA, NHL, PGA, Bundesliga and the NFL, as well as media outlets such as ESPN, YouTube, Bleacher Report and Amazon.
We are now expanding our offering to bookmakers and the whole betting ecosystem. With video being an essential part of any sport content site, bookmakers can’t be different, and WSC Sports is perfectly positioned to take the betting user experience into a new era swapping every touchpoint – into a video one.
SBC: So here we’re talking about shorter form video content?
YB: Exactly, but our offering isn’t limited to just live video notifications. If you take an NBA game for example, we are actually automatically creating hundreds of different highlight clips of this specific game based on the broadcaster’s preferences.
If there’s a rights holder that wants to show all the best bits from the action for their YouTube account for example, we can do that, or they may want to limit this video length to just a two-minute recap that’s right for Twitter, or a one-minute clip for Instagram which shows just three-pointers.
A French broadcaster for example may only want to show highlights solely from French players such as Rudy Gobert giving their audience the most relevant content. Whether the need is for extended highlights, or very short clips, our system can create all these combinations of highlights.
SBC: You are tagging these events as the matches progress, but how close to live can the video content actually be delivered?
YB: It’s what we call ‘near-live’. Events are being tagged and indexed in real-time and shortly after it takes place, the highlights are ready to use.
These highlights can support the increase of live betting through live audience engagement. With Sportradar, our Live Video Notification offering means we’re able to publish a video directly to the end user’s phone very quickly.
SBC: Let’s talk about the partnership aspect now. What can you tell us about your work with Sportradar?
YB: We are able to engage active or inactive users by notifying them of events in real-time, relevant to their interests or habits. For example, If I’m interested in the Bundesliga or, perhaps more specifically in matches involving Bayern Munich, I’ll receive a video notification of any goal that happens within their matches – delivered straight to my phone.
So, if Lewandowski scores, I’ll get to watch a short video that shows the goal which is accompanied with a call to action from the betting operator, with new opportunities for the user to place bets for the rest of the game.
The Live Video Notification directs me to the bookmaker’s page for a specific betting market. Together with Sportradar, we have created an important tool that, in real-time, enables bookmakers to engage with their users.
SBC: And Patrick, can you talk a bit about it from the Sportradar perspective?
Patrick Mostboeck (PM): Our biggest priority is to add value to our operators’ provision and enhance what is already a well-established streaming offering. We offer 200,000 live streams a year featuring some of the world’s biggest sporting tournaments and competitions.
This plays an important role in terms of customer retention, brand building and revenue generation. The Live Video Notification service is the next step towards bringing users back into the relevant apps to trigger the next transaction.
Based on early feedback and some early experience, we see that the push notification itself, and the short form content, is a very good way to do that. Mainly because it’s so easy to consume.
Audiences nowadays have a relatively short attention span. This is why the Live Video Notification is so important from an engagement and retention point of view, offering our operators the tools to reconnect with their customers on a more regular basis.
SBC: I’m glad you’ve brought up streaming. How do you think the video notifications can work in tandem with live streaming? Are the two complementary or competing with one another?
PM: We view it as a complementary product offering and that’s reflected in the analytics we have seen. There’s a specific user behaviour attached to watching live streams on a betting operator’s website. And, a different behaviour for those consuming video content via an OTT platform.
If we consider the short form content, the behaviour is different again. One reason why it’s so appealing to our operators is because it gives them the opportunity to connect with a different customer segment – one that engages with this type of push notification or video highlights.
SBC: And what about from the operator’s point of view, Yuval?
YB: I do not see the two as competing products. They are either complementary or addressing two different user segments. Nowadays every single sports content site is driven by video. So why should betting be any different?
As an example, let’s take a bookmaker customer on a Saturday afternoon in the UK. Maybe they are watching one game but don’t know what’s happening in another game playing at the same time. Suddenly, they receive a push notification with a video of a goal from the other game.
With the notification triggering their interest they will most likely visit the bookmaker website or go into the app and watch the stream of that game. The two are working hand in hand and following the trend of what we are seeing for all other sports content sites – short form video being utilised to engage fans wherever and whenever they are online.
SBC: Would it be fair to say that the already engaged punter is the one who might be watching a live stream, and then your sleeping or inactive punter is targeted by the live video notification. Or is there more crossover than that?
YB: I would say it’s both. It could be for a recreational player who is not actively watching a stream but is happy just seeing highlights via notification.
Or it could be someone watching a stream for a different game who then becomes interested in another because of the notification they received. One of the advantages here is that one is not contradicting the other.
PM: For a betting operator looking to engage with sports fans, delivering them a video highlight directly is a very rich way of addressing them. It provides deeper engagement beyond sending a push notification with a generic message.
SBC: I think what stands out to me is the easy consumption of multiple sports events in parallel, in richer form than just a text notification, and without having to sit in front of the TV screen. Does that match your objectives?
YB: Exactly, you’ve probably seen a broadcast of a game in the past on TV and the broadcaster temporarily switched to another game, or a pop-up mini screen shows you goals that just happened, well Live Video Notification is along those lines.
One important factor here is the personalisation aspect. If I’m a bookmaker, and I have 100s or 1000s of users, but each one has a favourite team or favourite player, we can send every person a different event clip within the game to suit them.
For the first segment, it will be all about goals, whereas the second segment will be all about red cards. This is the beauty of what the system can do, matching the right content, to the right fan, at the right time.
SBC: I wanted to ask you both about personalisation. Is this based on technology that understands a player’s preferences and is then applied by the bookmaker? Or can the players make their own choice about the content they receive?
PM: There are two levels that we should distinguish here. The first is the level of the push notification itself. If you have an app with push notifications, you can typically configure – at least if it’s a more mature app – the amount you want to receive, maybe also the topics you want to receive notifications for.
It will probably be based on sports, leagues or teams. From an engagement standpoint, there’s an element of personalisation in the push component.
And then from the content side, the second category, there is personalisation in terms of the key actions you see – around, for example, a football, tennis or basketball match.
This is clearly where we’re benefiting from the expertise of WSC Sports, because they are the leaders in understanding exactly what the key moments in the sports are and how to edit them in the most automated way to allow the customers to benefit from it.
YB: From the perspective of the bookmaker, what we provide is a system that is fully configurable, so if it has sophisticated segmentation with their users, they can pretty much do whatever they want.
We obviously don’t have the player information, but the bookmaker does, and we are enabling them to combine their user data with our automated services and use it in the best way possible.
SBC: Picking up on the partnership element to this again, where does it evolve from here? Are there any other products that you’re working on together? What should we expect to see from Sportradar and WSC over the next few years?
PM: The partnership has already delivered on many levels. At the moment, we have an active cooperation in what we call the Core Data media space.
We are working with sports like basketball and baseball to utilise their data for media use. WSC can use this data for improved automation of the systems and automation of the highlights.
We’ve also collaborated on a stories function, popular on social media right now, which enables broadcasters or publishers to publish content in short form for an improved mobile experience.
And the video push notifications is another product going in a very similar direction. The collaboration between ourselves and WSC Sports makes a lot of sense when it comes to our understanding of the market.