SportCaller: Our products must evolve to appeal to new audiences

As we catch up with our event sponsors ahead of SBC Digital Summit North America, we spoke with SportCaller’s MD Cillian Barry to discuss his presentation on how F2P (free-to-play) will help determine the winners and losers in the US market when it comes to sportsbook acquisition and retention.

He explained that the industry has been planning to reach out to Gen-Z and millennial bettors, and that now is the perfect time to do that.

What are you looking forward to at the SBC Digital Summit North America?

From our perspective, it’s a first for SportCaller – not to mention personally-speaking – to be taking and hosting a virtual booth at a digital summit. As many challenges as this pandemic has undoubtedly brought, there have been some unexpected silver linings to the proverbial cloud. 

And these digital summits are a great innovation, running off a robust, easy-to-navigate platform, which afford the industry a chance to pull together and demonstrate its flair for innovation and adaptation at a time when good ideas must converge to grant us the best path out of the woods. Indeed, you have to admire a roll call of key speakers that includes the likes of Penn National Gaming, DraftKings, and Barstool Sports.

So, our combined thanks to the SBC team for staging this pivotal event for the ever-exciting and unfolding U.S. market where thankfully elite sports are doing everything they can to return from the sidelines. 

We’re also looking forward to virtual networking opportunities, and we hope to see old friends and new clients stop by the SportCaller booth which will be staffed throughout proceedings. It’s a popular misconception that people panic in a crisis. For the most part, they don’t. Instead, they become more prosocial and determined to work with and help each other. We should all embrace that collective mindset. 

What would be your biggest bit of advice for betting and gaming businesses trying to mitigate the impact of COVID-19? 

Don’t alienate your base by trying to push them to products in which they had previously shown little to no interest. It is a tough time for everyone and budgets are tight on both sides. As a result, we must ally resilience to responsibility. That means offering players an enjoyable way to engage with the products or sports they love, without the need for either party to incur any significant or unexpected costs. 

We have seen a number of our clients do this to great effect – from Kindred with their STREAKR product, through some fun trivia and prediction games with our existing partners the U.S., and on to a Paddy Power-sponsored live quiz with Off The Ball, Ireland’s popular sports news and analysis show. It just highlights the industry’s capacity for creativity, alongside our proprietary platform’s inherent flexibility. 

What are you promoting at SBC Digital Summit North America? 

We have a broad range of products that are now displaying even broader ranges of use. Accordingly, our enterprise platform, which hosts all these games and services, informs our signature showcase. This flexible solution allows us to offer tailor-made packages, regardless of any client’s size or scope. This portfolio spans the spectrum from an “out of the box” self-managed solution to “fully managed” with bespoke games and even pay-to-play options.

What industry innovation will capture the most attention in 2020? 

For the most part, the sector has been largely lacking innovation and exciting new products for some time now. Less dare to be different, just more of the same old. The industry has been tossing around buzzwords and vaguely talking about grabbing the attention of Gen X and the millennials for years. So, it’s high time we did. Long story short: our products need to evolve. 

Happily, I do believe that we are starting to see the first wave of this arriving, a divergence from the longstanding and traditional way of betting to more gamified and interactive forms of doing so. At SportCaller, we are very proud of some of the new and innovative products we have brought to market, and the respective results that they are driving for our clients’ diverse and specific needs – from Paddy Power Betfair’s award-winning Beat The Drop to Kindred’s STREAKR, or even bringing DFS to the horse racing world via the reimagining of Ten to Follow for the UK Tote Group. It’s been an encouraging and rewarding spell.

Which operator has impressed you the most in 2020? 

You would have to point to Sky Bet in the UK for taking a lead in responsible gambling, a position that they have been expertly steered towards by former CEO Richard Flint – who still proactively lobbies for a positive industry contribution. However, in terms of an operator that consistently churns out impressive product, marketing and results, it’s impossible to look beyond FanDuel. 

They are a machine that keeps on producing and we have first-hand knowledge of this at SportCaller. It is great for us that free-to-play (F2P), and our games, are proving strategically significant for them – and, more importantly, they’re still delivering results for them too.

What partnership has stood out in the past 12 months?

As a self-serving and self-centred founder, I would have to say our F2P agreement with CBS! But taking my biased blinkers off, I think the live golf data that IMG Arena is working on with the PGA and European Tour for their Golf Event Centres provides a great example of how data can extend the narrative of a sport and also create previously unavailable markets for sports fans and punters. It will be a game-changer for golf betting, as in-play goes mainstream, with fans able to easily access everything from player stats to ball lies and course conditions.

Which parts of the conference agenda have caught your eye? 

Thursday is perhaps the most interesting day. It is definitely the most forward-looking but also, for our business, the most relevant. From the use of data and technology to the relationship between rights holders and betting, key players such as DraftKings and Barstool Sports can build on our own nod to the importance of F2P in the future, as outlined in SportCaller’s featured F2P presentation at 1pm ET / 10am PT / 6pm BST on Tuesday 14th July. I hope you can join me then.  

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