The established narrative that watching sport stimulates betting activity, and vice versa, is rooted in years of operator experience, as well as research.i ii
Indeed, nowadays there is broad recognition within the industry that live streaming is an essential driver of sports betting, and most operators never look back after taking the plunge and starting to show sports coverage on their digital platform.
However, many sportsbooks – including those who invest in such coverage – still consider streaming to be merely a nice-to-have add-on. As a result, they are falling short of customer expectations regarding the user experience, and failing to maximise the opportunity at their disposal.
Christian Tafart, Sportradar’s Head of Customer Experience for Audiovisual, here offers his six top tips on how to optimise the sportsbook streaming customer experience in order to drive significant benefits.
1) Get the basics right
It is vital for operators to check streams are working after the initial integration phase, as well as regularly thereafter, so that coverage they have booked is actually available on the platform.
It may seem painfully obvious, but if a stream doesn’t work, it kills the customer experience.
Despite this unforgiving reality, technical issues remain the most frequent customer-facing problem with such coverage on sportsbooks. Common problems are caused by, for example, the incorrect end user IP being submitted in the stream request, or perhaps forgetting to check that an event has the required ‘On Air Broadcast’ stream status to confirm its availability.
A true partner of a sportsbook will always be on hand to offer advice and support so that customers can access the streams they are looking for.
2) Keep talking
To expand on the first tip, ensuring there are clear channels of communication between the sportsbook and their partners – namely the platform provider and the stream supplier – is essential, and ideally there should be a nominated point of contact at all three.
An efficient, ongoing dialogue between the different parties can help a sportsbook to avoid or tackle streaming problems swiftly. For example, a stream might stop working because, without the sportsbook’s knowledge, the platform provider has carried out a system update that has thrown out the integration.
In instances like these, it could only take a quick call or message to foresee, address and resolve the issue before it becomes a major headache.
3) Check the analytics
Taking the time to look at the streaming audience analytics on a regular basis can help sports betting operators to understand their customers and their viewing habits better. These analytics are readily available through our AV Analytics (AVA) tool, and can be crucial for shaping a streaming strategy.
As a starting point, the analytics will show if there has been a technical problem with a stream, as the audience figure will be zero. When this happens, a sportsbook can work with partners to investigate and learn lessons for the future.
However, analytics also offer valuable insights into which streams are performing comparatively well. Using that information, operators can explore ways of refining their streaming approach and presentation so that the customer experience continues to improve.
4) Make streams easy to find and access
The most successful cases of frontend integration we have seen use maximum four clicks, taps or steps until a customer has access to a requested stream. Unfortunately, the customer journey is more complicated than that on many sportsbooks though, and for new sign-ups, finding coverage of a certain match or event can be frustratingly convoluted.
We recommend that operators should have a separate, standalone and prominent section that lists the live streams currently available. If that is not possible, streamed matches should be shuffled to the top of any fixture list, so they are clearly visible without scrolling down.
Additionally, streaming icons should be easy to spot; so, not too small, not hidden in a corner, and not blending in with the platform’s background colour.
5) Promote the stream
There is no point paying for rights to a premium live stream unless you are going to tell your customers about it. In fact, failing to promote a stream adequately on a platform will damage the experience of a customer who would have been interested, and may feel they have missed out.
Therefore, coverage should be highlighted as prominently as possible on sportsbooks, and users should be able to flick between simultaneous streams easily, as we know that sports betting customers often like to jump between different games.
But operators should also consider promoting streams of certain games or events, and the betting opportunities associated with them, in banner advertisements on the homepage. In our experience, we have seen these types of adverts, which help to keep the customer informed, perform well.
Additionally, sportsbooks can delve into user data to identify the most receptive customers to live streams and what they would be interested in watching. This can enable an operator to explore ways of informing them of upcoming coverage and ultimately personalise their experience.
6) Offer continuous streams
Non-stop sports coverage is a powerful proposition for a sportsbook, stimulating betting activity and loyalty from customers who will recognise a platform that is reliably offering live action around the clock. Therefore, operators should explore sporting properties that take place across different time zones, as well as lower-profile sports, all of which can plug gaps in streaming schedules.
At Sportradar, our content portfolio covers multiple sports through the day and night across the globe, and some of our clients have enjoyed significant success by including the likes of table tennis in their live sports output.
Indeed, research shows that a sportsbook streaming offering that extends beyond the top leagues can be a match-winner with customers who are steadily broadening their horizons.
In a long-established sports betting market like Nevada, for instance, betting on lesser-known sports rather than the established major leagues has increased over recent years. In 2021, these ‘other sports’ accounted for 10.3% of all wagers in the state – up from 6.3% just five years earlier.iii So, the message for sportsbooks is clear: don’t just ignore ‘other sports’ as they could be missing out on a major opportunity to boost the customer experience, and customer loyalty.
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