Today’s guest columnist is Rich Rottman, President of Minute Media.
We are constantly reading about new investments being made by sports betting in technology or content, with the goal of facilitating growth and value in sports betting as a whole. This isn’t just a quick glimpse – the US sports betting market is expected to reach $37 billion by 2025, making betting on the next and frankly only new A sporty category that will contribute this new value a lot to the industry over the next five to ten years. As the market crowds, with a mix of traditional media companies and new entrepreneurial tech brands emerging, there is one constant that appears to be driving both new and old companies, and that is content.
Sportsbooks want to become content companies, and content companies want to become sports operators. I think the convergence between the two will start to become more evident over the next few years. While each of these emerging sportsbooks have relied heavily on advertising to drive awareness and consumer growth, content is at the fore in their marketing strategies, and ownership of this interaction will create tremendous future value.
FanDuel owns several content companies, including broadcasting channel TVG. Barstool and more recently theScore have been acquired by Penn National Gaming. DraftKings VSiN owns and operates a content experience in partnership with SB Nation, and more is guaranteed to emerge. When aggregated, the above deals alone represent more than $3 billion in published capital in the past few years, far exceeding any content investment made by sports publishers in this emerging category. Simply put, bookmakers can invest more in content than publishers, as the lifetime value of their customers far exceeds that of the ad-supported industry.
Focusing on lifetime customer value versus advertiser CPM or one-time license fees, bookmakers are better positioned for this industry and growth strategy. However, publishers seeking growth, offsetting CPM erosion or facing challenges in audience expansion, are looking for ways to market their business outside of advertising-led models. Key examples include Barstool’s recent launch of Barstool Bites, and multiple corporate forays into the NIL and NFTs.
Among the many such posting players, there is a huge difference in how revenue from the sports betting category is recognized and strategically deployed. Some like lasers focus on commercializing every aspect of the space and seeking financial compensation in the near term, which on the surface, given the competitive landscape, makes perfect sense. However, if you are not investing in future sports betting content assets, you are simply wasting that money.
More traditional media companies like CBS and ESPN happen to be in a great position to grow their sports betting capabilities, given their historical users and fictional subscribers. CBS, ESPN, Yahoo! They all have many years of data that can pave the way for a powerful affiliate marketing product if used properly. However, the exact opposite can be said for other sports broadcasters, as their lack of digital data outside of TV-Everywhere’s verified audiences may require a whole new start.
Bottom line: The current landscape has a content business set up as key affiliate marketing channels, if managed and monetized appropriately. The content owners and creators, who will be the long-term winners, will be determined by the investments they make today. To that end, I believe that publishing brands should allocate a quarter of their investable content development budget to increase their market share and voice in this key area.
It is never too late to boost this segment of the business, and while it may seem expensive and crowded today, it will become more expensive the longer companies wait.
At Minute Media, Rotman serves as president. Prior to that, he held the position of Chief Revenue Officer at Perform Media, a global sports media and content group. He also previously launched the distribution and monetization business for Silver Chalice Ventures and worked on media licensing deals for college sports and in the NFL.