igamingbusiness.com | By Robin Harrison
The Lionesses are in the final and, for LiveScore Bet, betting on the Women’s World Cup has enjoyed exponential growth. The women’s game is now as much of a component of the app as the Premier League, says sportsbook director James McKay.
Making a like-for-like comparison on Women’s World Cup betting is particularly tricky for LiveScore Bet. The 2019 tournament in France took place almost two years before LiveScore Group added its namesake betting product to its ecosystem, alongside its sports media app.
It was up and running for last summer’s European Championships, where the Lionesses triumphed over Germany in the final. That victory, sportsbook director James McKay explains, played a huge role in bringing a wider audience in the UK.
“The audience is there even if the England team hadn’t made the knockout stages in Australia and New Zealand,” McKay says.
Following their 3-1 victory over Australia, the team are preparing for their first Fifa Women’s World Cup final against Spain this Sunday (20 August).
In the UK the Lionesses winning helps, McKay admits. “After the Euros, they became overnight heroes almost,” he says. “They’ve got an opportunity to influence a generation and that brings football fans across from enjoying the men’s game to the women’s game. I think they’re also attracting a different type of person.”
Others are saying the same. Recent figures from Entain, released this week, revealed women have placed 21% of all bets on the tournament so far, compared with 17% in the 2022 Euros, and 13% during the 2019 World Cup.
Treating Women’s World Cup betting as a top-tier event for the industry
This growing interest from a diverse base means the Women’s World Cup is a tier-one event, McKay says. LiveScore Bet puts in the same level of preparation as it does for the men’s tournament.
“We’ve looked to adapt everything we’ve used in the months leading up [to the World Cup]. We’ve developed our free-to-play in-app promotion LiveScore 6, giving users the chance to pick six results from the Women’s World Cup. We’ve also done the exact same for our award-winning Squads feature.”
Engagement with the World Cup-themed versions of these games is strong. McKay argues players are as happy to draw Alessia Russo as they are Erling Haaland for their Squads.
“We’ve just shown it the respect it deserves,” he says of the Women’s World Cup. “We’ve treated it exactly the same as we would a men’s World Cup.
“That includes all of the new markets that have obviously grown over the last year. Bet builders, bet boosts, specials, everything you would likely see if you came on a Premier League Saturday.”
Broadcasting on terrestrial TV helps bring the tournament to an even bigger audience. With Women’s Super League games on Sky Sports, McKay expects women’s football to become a key component of LiveScore Bet’s marketing and operational teams’ considerations throughout the football season.
Building a sporting ecosystem
Thanks to the 50 million monthly actives on the LiveScore media app, the business finds itself in a unique position in that it owns an ecosystem that powers LiveScore Bet. The core app provides news, huge troves of data on player and team performance and live score updates for leagues and competitions around the globe.
The challenge for McKay, on the betting side, is to provide a route from the app to the sportsbook. “It’s our job to create a frictionless journey between the two,” he explains, “So it feels like using one app. That’s where our work is really just starting.
“We are always concentrating on how to make it feel very natural and very simple.”
Ahead of the tournament, the media app unveiled Fara Williams as a brand ambassador. The former England international – “a legend of the game”, McKay says – joins the likes of Eni Aluko and Alex Scott in moving into punditry. He’s confident more will follow.
LiveScore’s feedback loop
It also scratches an itch for fans accustomed to deep-dive statistics on football. A majority of app users (57%) believe the level of analysis and detail around the women’s game doesn’t compare to that offered on the men’s game.
28% of LiveScore users would be more interested in following the Women’s World Cup if there was a higher level of analysis and understanding.
That feedback loop is crucial to LiveScore Group, McKay says. It runs lot of surveys, both from the media perspective and from the betting perspective.
“We also have customer focus groups to make sure we show ideation before it goes out and early stage demos to gather feedback.
“We look at a lot of the feedback that we get through app store reviews and customer service, to then go back to the product team to make sure we’re designing better, to see what the real frictions are. And I guess that’s always a work in progress for everybody.”
Looking ahead to the Women’s World Cup final
Amid the uncertainty of tournament football, a run to the final leads to a major uptick in betting volumes and the Lionesses have the nation’s backing, McKay says.
LiveScore Bet is running additional specials and boosts for the betting on the Women’s World Cup final, including a Betbuilder Bet and Get, its fastest growing market. McKay is confident the operator will hit a new record with Sunday’s game.
“We saw an increase of around 15% versus the previous round where England played Nigeria, which was the biggest turnover game so far,” he says. “We are expecting this number to be easily beaten when they play the Spanish on Sunday and hopefully bring the trophy home.”
So what does he want to see from the team at the Accor Stadium on the day? “I think what’s most important is for them to keep the tempo up throughout the game and go for the jugular when they are winning,” McKay says.
“We saw in the semi that, after they scored, they sat back and it took the equaliser for them to refocus and get on the front foot. I get reminded when the men’s team went 1-0 up against Italy and sat back.
“However, the Lionesses have already proved that they can get over the line and I am fully behind them doing it again.”