Increasing interconnectedness between betting and sports media, two already heavily-linked industries, has been a major talking point. No company has been at the forefront of these changes more than LiveScore Group, its convergence model, and CEO SAM SADI.
LiveScore Group has established itself as a dominant force in this space by converging its media properties with the LiveScore Bet and Virgin Bet brands. Sadi explained to SBC Leaders that the company’s ambitions go far beyond this, identifying some key areas in which it has established an edge over competitors.
“We are aiming to be the absolute leader in this space,” Sadi remarked, citing the unique nature of LiveScore Group’s business model and its plans to scale in territories where the platform already retains a large user base.
Sadi continued. “We can still say we are unique because although there are a lot of operators and companies who claim to try to execute this type of media betting convergence model, they’re very, very early in this journey.
“Whereas we started almost four years ago now and we feel we are much more advanced in our understanding of how these ecosystems work and in the development of our technology.”
As the firm progresses with its strategy, alliance with media companies in territories will also play a role, alongside continued progress and focus on the LiveScore Group technology and product.
This, Sadi emphasised, will drive LiveScore Group’s objective of a “leadership and number one position”, not just a podium place. “That’s what our vision really is,” he asserted.
The other key selling point to LiveScore Group’s offering is that it has been developed with a significant goal in mind, that being to solve a “very obvious consumer problem” in the words of its CEO.
This problem in the market is that customers are currently using various apps for scores and stats and then even more apps for betting. LiveScore Group aims to address this with its integrated single ecosystem product.
“Especially if they’re also betting, the user journeys between consuming content and transacting with a betting operator are very flawed and inefficient,” Sadi explained.
“What we believe and have already proven is that if you combine this consumption into a single seamless ecosystem, you’re able to deliver much more value to the user in terms of more convenience, the types of content that they’re looking for, and the user exchanges that with their loyalty.”
This is not to say that other operators haven’t been pursuing their own ambitions in this space, however, as stakeholders across the sector are being drawn to the opportunities convergence with media provides. Entering this space has some important factors to consider, however, Sadi continued.
THE DISTRIBUTION DILEMMA
Across the industry, bookmakers have become increasingly aware of the potential of sports content. This is out of necessity, LiveScore Group’s CEO emphasised, when faced with more challenging economics and regulation, many firms have recognised the value in a content strategy.
Having content is not the issue though – distributing it is. Sadi continued: “The problem they’re going to be facing is distribution. You cannot just start sourcing or creating your own content and expect everyone to stop using BBC Sport, Sky Sports or LiveScore and start consuming content at the betting operator’s site.
“It’s very difficult to shift these consumer habits, especially if those companies are providing them with great content already. If you don’t have that kind of distribution – which none of the betting companies currently have, and some are solving this by acquiring media companies – then you’re going to fail.
“People say content is king but it’s really distribution that makes a difference because content you can create and acquire, but you’re not going to get millions of users coming to your content site overnight.”
People say content is king but it’s really distribution that makes a difference.Sam Sadi – CEO LiveScore Group
Particularly in Europe, some policymakers and public figures have been vocal in their concerns about the heightened visibility of the betting sector, particularly in the media. Against this backdrop of regulatory attention on betting’s media presence, how can betting sit within a sports ecosystem whilst meeting increasingly important and tightening responsible betting requirements?
“It can sit in an ecosystem if you are a responsible operator and you maintain your commitments towards safer gambling and protecting vulnerable people,” Sadi remarked.
“We operate our media product in a fully age-gated way, we’re moving more towards registered users where we know exactly their profiles.”
He further explained that in response to new regulatory requirements in the Netherlands, LiveScore has rolled out functionality that allows users to choose ‘to never be exposed to any type of gambling feature or advertising’.”
Sadi continued: “It really requires the ecosystem operator to be aware of the problem, recognise it and make sure that you use all the technology you have and all the data you have on the users to make sure nobody’s behaving in an irresponsible way. That goes beyond what is required by compliance.
“If you bring this attitude into every product design that you release and every marketing activity that you do, that’s the only way to have a long-term sustainable ecosystem.”
25 YEARS OF LIVESCORE – WHERE NEXT?
While LiveScore Group has earned a prominent position in the betting-media convergence niche, it is clear there are other bookmakers circling and investing in this space, seeking to overcome the hurdles discussed above.
As the firm works towards its market leadership ambitions, LiveScore may have a growing number of competitors to go up against. Sadi remains convinced that the company is still uniquely placed to achieve its goals nonetheless.
He continued: “The investments we have made in our platform to make this seamless ecosystem is not easy. That is not to say that they cannot get there and that our model cannot be replicated, and so we have to keep innovating and retain that advantage that we have built.
“It’s really our size and scale that gives us our biggest advantage, and we look to maintain that advantage by investing in the content side of the business.”
LiveScore has amassed a large user-base of over 50 million, the CEO detailed, which will provide a solid foundation for its plans for further scalability, having celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, a milestone for which it has “a lot of activities” planned for.
Concluding, Sadi laid out this roadmap: “We will start with initiatives to donate into charity, we have B2C initiatives with customer promotions planned and features within the same theme.
“We will do internal events, try to build more awareness within our company of the history of LiveScore and how it has come to this point over the years. It’s going to be an exciting year for us, and we will look to build awareness and enthusiasm around this massive milestone.”