Last week, thought leaders and innovators from across the sports industry convened at Barclays Center in Brooklyn to examine the latest trends and technology that are shaping the sports landscape. I had the opportunity to attend this two-day, jam packed event. One of the hottest topics was sports betting, an area in which we are well-versed — DraftKings, a leader in daily fantasy and sports betting, is a Taylor client partner.
While daily fantasy and esports were top of mind, the technological advancements spawned by the advent of legalized sports betting have opened the gateway for many leagues and brands to rethink fan engagement.
MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, kicked off the conference as the keynote speaker. And while esports is currently top of mind for baseball, he did share a story about a conversation he had with his NBA counterpart, Adam Silver a few years ago around sports betting. During this call, Silver then told Manfred, “Just remember, your pace of play is perfect for in-game sports betting.”
“And he’s right about that,” Manfred said at last week’s SportTechie State of the Industry conference. “I do think that it gives us an opportunity. There’s a natural flow to our game. Lots of lots people love that natural flow the way it is. I think the development of the sports betting landscape provides an opportunity to fill in those slow moments in our game that not everybody loves.”
Shortly after Manfred’s keynote conversation, PointsBet Chief Innovations Officer Seth Young opened a panel on sports betting technology to announce his company’s new venture: Batter’s Box, a product that will allow fans to bet on the outcome of every at bat of every batter on the lineup card. There’s an average of 76 plate appearances per big league game, and users can wager on one of three results—hit, out, or walk/hit-by-pitch—for the next two or three batters in the lineup.
“In-play is just an incredibly engaging experience,” Young said, adding: “It’s incumbent upon the existing operators to create really exciting new markets to engage the customer.”
Joining him on the panel, titled Advances in Sports Betting Technology, was Scott Butera, President of Interactive Gaming at MGM and the SVP, Head of Fantasy and Gaming at the NBA.
MGM has licensed official league data from the NBA, the NHL, and MLB, and each deal will include some advanced tracking stats that will both inform the lines they make and offer potential bets on increments of the game, such as who threw the fastest pitch, fired off the hardest slapshot, or nailed the longest three-pointer. MGM has also invested in the Alliance of American Football, whose app includes a predictive gaming product predicated on data obtained from athlete wearables.
“We were really in it for the technology,” Butera said.
As the legalization of sports betting continues to spread, and gaming becomes further ingrained in the culture of U.S. sports, the value of officially licensed data will continue to grow. While data feeds have become important for fan engagement and fantasy sports, they are proving to be an essential component of the betting industry.