The development of sports betting sponsorships: Keeping up with the times

July 25, 2023

Four experts in the fields of sports betting and sports data discussed the evolution and aim of betting sponsorships in a US-focused Sportradar webinar.

Corey Plummer - CEO and Founder of Olybet

Ryan Bahia - Sales Enablement Director of DraftKings

Kuljeet Sindhar - Associate VP of International Gaming & Data Ventures for the NBA

Hampus Lofkvist - Direct of Global Sponsorship Sales at Sportradar


How have sports betting sponsorships developed?

Corey Plummer: There’s more access and engagement now. We’ve moved much farther away from just names on jerseys and a few television commercials. Technology like streaming has helped the sports industry, which obviously helps us in sports betting. We stream 10,000 events a month.

Ten years ago, that was not happening. Older people will watch one full sporting event, younger people will watch five or six in that same period of time, on multiple devices. More technology, more data, more opportunity to engage with the athletes. If people want to make a sports wager, they can be more informed.

Ryan Bahia: In the US it’s only five years old. We’re still turning things on state by state with different populations and different engagements in sports. Massachusetts is a good example because of the way the teams are performing and how they were doing at the time it launched. 

Do a lot of the US sports lend themselves well to sponsorships since the market opened?

RB: Yes, especially the major sports. They’ve got a good playbook in terms of how they work with sponsors and partners. We’ve worked with a lot of the major sports to build those assets out. 

Hampus Lofkvist: The way we used to approach big rightsholders was always partnerships not sponsorships. You’re going to pay for the IP and the rights, but if you can have a conversation and a strategy for how the rightsholder is going to drive a return on the investment, that’s when you have a foundation for that partnership.

I think the NBA has been pretty understanding of the need to do that and create real value for their partners. 

How do you create the most value for your sponsorship partners?

Kuljeet Sindhar: There are studies that show people who engage with their sport, in fantasy or sports betting, watch for longer, watch more often, watch games they wouldn’t normally watch and watch teams they’re not fans of. We try to form holistic partnerships.

If you are an NBA fan, you should want to bet with our partners DraftKings or Olybet because they are providing the authentic NBA experience. Therefore, NBA handle and NBA market share for our partners should be increasing. We find ways to be mutually incentivized.

What might be possible in sports betting sponsorships that’s not currently happening?

KS: In the US, betting has been infused into broadcast in an engaging way. In mature markets, where regulation prohibits betting integration, all you’re really seeing is advertising around the court.

Our goal is to put the NBA in front of fans in whatever dimension they wish to express their fandom. Betting is no different. We have telecasts that are produced with betting at the forefront. I’d love to have the ability to engage fans in international markets the way we do in the US. 

CP: More than 70% of all our new customers are under 30. On our platforms we can see what people watch, how long they watch and how many devices they have. I’m focused on how people consume sport; it’s up to other people to create technology to support on this data.

You see guys running around on the pitch with things under their jerseys; that develops a lot more data points per person and more of that is integrated into platforms in sportsbooks and broadcasts. 

KS: In the AFL, I think they’ve tried it; before a big kick you can see a player’s heart rate on screen. Obviously, that’s unlikely to be commonplace, but if you see that heart rate jump at an end of season big game, in comparison to what it does earlier, you could align markets to that.

HL: Everyone in the industry is trying get more fan data. There’s an opportunity in real, long-term partnerships to look at how we collectively connect and use that data together. How do we curate messaging that is targeted, instead of all going after the same fans for different platforms? 

CP: Having fans engage directly with what’s going on with the athletes, the coaches, strategy and statistics in the game creates a more compelling in-game, live experience. The data has to go with the technology. Younger people want technology that doesn’t exist.

Right now, they can’t pull a single device out and watch four different things, plus have all these overlays at the same time. But that’s the kind of technology we would like to see.  



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