Fanatics has the tools to come out on top in the race between the two major newcomers in the US sports betting market, according to LiveScore Group CEO Sam Sadi.
Speaking at iGaming 2024: The Future of iGaming, an event hosted by Xtremepush, the leading omnichannel customer engagement platform powered by a real-time customer data platform (CDP), Sadi outlined his belief that the superior knowledge and experience of the Fanatics team presents them with a significant competitive advantage over rivals ESPN Bet.
Flutter, the parent company of FanDuel, has estimated that the overall regulated sports betting market in the US will be worth more than $40 billion by 2030.[MC1]
“Fanatics has the better chance of winning,” said Sadi, in a fireside chat with Xtremepush CEO Tommy Kearns at London’s Southbank Centre. “ESPN Bet probably won’t, unless they realise the full difficulties they face with Barstool, they understand what’s missing, they’re patient and they invest a lot in technology.
“Why should Fanatics win? Because they already understand it. A lot of their executives, management and engineering team come from Sky Bet. They know what it takes to build a world-class sportsbook and they know that convergence is difficult. They’re willing to be patient and construct an entire ecosystem piece by piece, with every component being best-in-class.”
Sadi also touched on the hot topic of convergence in sports betting, such a big area for his company LiveScore and LiveScore Bet, outlining the area in which he sees scope for innovation.
“A lot of technology resources today are spent on remaining compliant,” he said. “We are in an over-regulated industry where margins have been eroded, meaning companies can’t invest as much in innovation.
“Just as we have done, you are looking for alternative strategies and inefficiencies in the ecosystem of sports content and media. If you include this in a fully owned ecosystem, there is margin for improvement. This is the part of the experience where you can start innovating and investing, as opposed to within a sportsbook where you can’t make as much of a difference.”
Player Engagement 2.0 – Turning Visitors into Loyal Players
Other external speakers at the well-attended event, which hosted operators, suppliers and media from the iGaming industry, included Joanna Beaton, Head of CRM at Kwiff, Adrian Căpriţă, CRM and VIP Director at Superbet, and Tom Dyson, Head of Gaming Managed Services at EveryMatrix, who discussed the future of player engagement, retention and loyalty.
Beaton also expanded on the theme of regulation and the consequent need to retain players, with personalised experiences acting as a powerful engagement tool.
“A lot of the attention has been on acquisition, but as the market becomes more saturated, regulation becomes stricter and deposit limits are there to deal with, so retention has to become central. How do you stand out if you can’t bonus your player who is playing with three or four more other bookies through your product?
“It’s really important to know your player profiles and half the job is understanding data. If not, you’re basically throwing money into the wind and hoping for the best. We’ve worked with Xtremepush over the last year and have hundreds of attributes now in terms of player profiles, which have enabled some beautiful onboarding journeys. Because of the level of data that we have access to, we’ve seen tremendous uplift.”
Dyson’s view, meanwhile, was that there are limits to the extent to which brand marketing is effective in the battle for player retention.
“Brand recognition is the only area where I can see marketing being responsible for retention,” he said. “How often can I get my brand in front of someone I’ve had a contact point with? Thereafter, the responsibility is with the product. You have to get players in the door and engage them with an experience that might be different, but which needs to match up with what you promised. That needs to happen in real-time, because tomorrow they might have already been sent to other operators.”
Pushing the positives
For Beaton, the fundamental key to unlocking player loyalty is the provision of a positive initial experience.
“Even though we have a sizable brand, we are in a congested market and looking after players should be a priority,” she added. “When players come through the door, creating memorable positive experiences is what builds the foundation of loyalty. This is especially the case when regulation is getting tighter and bonusing is becoming harder. While acquisition is important, retention and creating that first positive experience is vital.”