Decline of TV to shape US betting markets

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Speaking at a Bloomberg panel on the future of sports betting, Tom Rogers, former TiVo boss and current CEO of skill- gaming operator WinView, predicts the channels of distribution will be defined less by legislation, and more by a major market “realignment” in the TV industry, as sports viewers go mobile.

Mark Cuban’s prediction that any sports team in the top four of its league would see its valuation double in the wake of PASPA’s repeal, hasn’t quite materialised. But as the pieces continue to move, a new matrix of beneficiaries is starting to take shape.

And as Tom Rogers, the mastermind behind TiVo and now CEO of skill-based sports gaming operators Win-View, points out, in the new world of US betting, it’s unlikely the usual suspects will be able to assume their usual dominance.

What will determine the winners in this changing environment is less state-by-state legislation and more a market “realignment” driven by the shift from viewing games on TV, to desktop, to mobile.

In Europe 70 percent of betting is already on mobile phones, says Rogers, and despite some states’ reluctance to introduce mobile legislation there, “there’s no reason to think that isn’t going to develop in the US as the primary source of where gambling revenue comes from.”

And the bigger shift, yet to come for mobile is a move towards live streaming into an app, the same app they’re using to place bets.

But at the moment “when you say mobile betting, what you’re really saying is ‘television-centric’: people playing while their watching television.

“And what is happening very quickly is the decline of current sources of revenues that support the sports industry.”

With more and more people choosing to stream content, and with younger generations less inclined to sit through a four hour game (and the ads that go with it) television rights contracts – traditionally the “underpinnings” of sports revenues – are declining.

“ESPN subscriptions are down by 17 million in the past few years, ratings for all sports are declining (with the exception of the NBA), and advertising revenues follow from that.”

At the same time as these “pillars” are declining, the big tech giants of Silicon Valley are moving in, bidding for rights, Rogers adds: “the Facebooks, the Amazons, the Googles”.

“The issue is whoever grabs the one new source of revenues, which is sports gaming, sports gambling, is critical in terms of who’s going to control distribution.”

“So while the transaction to sports gambling can be a slower process in terms of state-by-state the issue of alignment and being ready to grab your fair share of that revenue is something people have to worry about near term. And it also is a question of where athletes participate and how they align.”

Operators have learnt a lesson from marketing binges by daily fantasy sports firms, says Rogers, in that “user acquisition costs matter”, and its crucial not to overspend.

Traditional forms of in-stadium banner advertising or TV commercials could also make way in this new world of sports betting, for cheaper and more sustainable ways to connect with customers, in which athletes themselves could play a more defining role.


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