U.S. Leagues Look To Integrate Gaming Into Broadcasts

October 6, 2023
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Genius Sports has begun rolling out a product it touts as a new low-latency solution to live betting on National Football League (NFL) games, as U.S. sports leagues continue to look for new ways to add gambling elements to game broadcasts.
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Genius Sports has begun rolling out a product it touts as a new low-latency solution to live betting on National Football League (NFL) games, as U.S. sports leagues continue to look for new ways to add gambling elements to game broadcasts.

The technology and data provider, which holds an exclusive agreement to distribute the NFL’s official data in the United States, introduced its BetVision product last week, and held a webinar to further demonstrate the product on Thursday (October 5).

The product allows players to stream select NFL games inside a sportsbook application, with integrated betting odds and a betslip included in the stream, as well as in-game betting themed alerts.

The stream offers minimal delay from live action, according to one senior Genius executive.

“You can’t have an in-game betting experience without a low-latency video experience,” said Glen Herold, vice president of product.

The streams are not exclusive broadcasts, instead using the existing game broadcasts from one of the league’s five national television partners. The NFL has television rights agreements with CBS, NBC, Fox, Disney’s combination of ABC and ESPN, as well as a weekly streamed game on Amazon Prime Video.

“It varies a little bit by broadcaster, but we’re at a latency of about four to six seconds [behind live on-field action] on our primary stream,” Herold said, adding that would be about 30 to 40 seconds ahead of what was seen on television.

Genius said in a release that the product would be utilized by Caesars Sportsbook and Fanatics Sportsbook initially.

Although the initial rollout is solely focused on the NFL, Herold said one of the next steps for Genius is scaling the product to other sports. In addition to the NFL, Genius has partnerships with the National Basketball Association and the English Premier League, among others.

“We built it in a way that allows that scaling to be quite easy, of course, with customization based on the sport that you're watching and changing the user experience based on the sport that you're watching,” Herold said.

“I think in terms of our ambitions here and our focus, we're going to be looking to pretty quickly move into new sports, increase the breadth and depth of the sports offering within this platform,” added Sean Conroy, executive vice president, North America for Genius.

Over the last five years, as U.S. professional sports leagues have begun to embrace sports betting rather than run away from it, leagues have been looking for ways to address fans interested in the gambling aspects of the sport without repelling viewers who are not bettors.

Several leagues have experimented with alternate betting-focused broadcasts that run concurrent to the main broadcast, either on a separate channel or on a streaming service.

“We have tried to be cautious about the concept of over-gamblification, too much gambling, too many places in the sport,” said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred last week during an appearance on the “Marchand and Ourand” podcast.

“We think we’ve struck a balance there where we are getting some of the engagement boost without creating the potential for alienating that family audience,” Manfred said.

Manfred was asked about the potential for more integrated sports gambling elements within games, such as a model similar to an NFL RedZone broadcast which features live look-ins to games throughout the day and is popular among gamblers and fantasy sports players.

“I see that at some point coming as an alternate digital product,” Manfred said. “You’re always going to have that clean broadcast, if we get there to the betting off the screen, it’s going to be like a separate digital feed that the true gambler can opt into.”

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