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  • September 10, 2020
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Micro-Wagering: The Future of Sports Betting with Real-Time Streaming Technology

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As Americans rejoice that sports have returned, many are also welcoming the opportunity to jump back into a rapidly growing pastime: sports betting. Only three states haven’t introduced a bill around the legalization of sports betting—and with 18 already at full legalization, and many others close behind, there is massive potential for industry growth. Especially as more states pass legislation legalizing betting on mobile devices.

By 2022 it is projected that 32 states could offer legal sports betting and with it generate almost $6 billion in revenue. While this figure seems impressive, there is potential to increase the dollar amount tenfold, but only if sports properties and bookmakers have the right streaming technology in place offering fans the ability to bet on every play in a game. Streaming technology must become a higher priority in order to drive betting handle and thus, bottom line revenue. Right now, platforms are riddled with delays making the full potential of sports betting impossible to reach.

Betting on 2020 Sports

Coronavirus has changed not only the way the way sports are played, but also how we watch, engage, and bet on games as fans. No longer are stadiums filled with people providing teams with the "home field advantage"—imagine the Seattle Seahawks not taking advantage of their "12th man." As the entire industry attempts to adjust to this new normal, many are turning to technology for help, but not necessarily in the right ways.

Leagues such as the NBA and MLB are using digital innovations to fill empty stadiums – from Fox Sports' attempt to place virtual fans in MLB stadiums to the NBA’s partnership with Microsoft to accomplish the same goal, there are many new initiatives being tested. These programs, however, do not have a direct effect on revenue generation like sports betting can. Leagues and broadcasters must address the core technology that will drive sports betting and specifically, micro-wagering. The idea of betting on every pitch in a baseball game, every down in a football game and so on. If games can’t be provided in real-time and in sync so that every fan can watch at the same time, then we won’t be able to progress to virtual fans and more importantly micro-wagering – which is where the big money will come from.

For example, the PGA recently announced an update to their DraftKings partnership which allows fans to access a betting integration in the hopes of driving engagement. While this is a helpful next step within the industry, a true test will be if streaming delays will be eliminated and if they’ll be able to support an influx of online viewers simultaneously. The current status quo of sports streaming will simply not cut it for the modern sports bettor. 

Taking Sports Streaming to the Next Level

Cord cutting was already popular before the pandemic hit. Consumers were looking to ditch their cable provider at a rapid pace, but sports were often the one thing bringing them back. So when Coronavirus hit the U.S. earlier this year forcing sports leagues to suspend play, cord cutting hit a record high. Now, sports are back but many Americans are still finding themselves without cable packages meaning it’s an opportune time to take advantage of the sports audience streaming games. The largest obstacle with this opportunity is enhancing the current streaming experience as lackluster streams will not suffice. 

Historically, sporting events have struggled with livestreams. Fans streaming this year’s Super Bowl game experienced delays anywhere from 45 seconds to 55 seconds. Not only does this leave fans frustrated (who wants to read a tweet about a touchdown before it happens on your screen?) but it also leaves sportsbooks and bettors out of potential money. No fan is going to be comfortable placing a bet on whether the next pitch in a baseball game will be a strike, a ball, or a home run if their livestream is 5, 20, or even sometimes 60 seconds behind a fan elsewhere.

In order to successfully capitalize on that level of micro-wagering, operators must prioritize technology that can provide synchronized, real-time streams with no delays. Not only will this technology create happier fans, it will also have a substantial bottom line impact.

The Potential of Micro-Wagering

Fans are eager to bet on sports and sportsbooks, leagues, and broadcasters alike should be jumping at the chance to capitalize on this desire. Right now, simple bets on the outcome of a game are the status quo for many, but what if fans could bet on whether or not Tiger Woods will make this putt or if LeBron James will make this free throw? Right now, that’s not possible because most "live" streams aren’t even close to really being live. With frequent delays, operators are forced to cut potential betting windows short due to a variety of reasons including the possibility for fraud or courtsiding. If streams are delivered in real-time there not only is more time for users to engage and generate revenue, but also this risk of fraud is removed.

While fans can bet on the specific outcomes of games (halves, innings or quarters) true micro-wagering is not available. Recently, there has been conversations around using biometric data such as an athlete's respiration, temperature, blood pressure and more, during in-game betting. This level of betting is something beyond what we’ve seen before and is the meta-level of micro-wagering. While the insights alone can be helpful in betting—conceivably, a bet could also be made around whether or not a kicker's heart rate has historically increased while attempting field goals late in games forcing him to miss.

When you consider this conversation around biometric data and betting, it’s easy to realize just how endless the opportunities are with sports betting. Already the industry has massive popularity across the U.S.; with sports slowly coming back this desire for betting is only going to increase. With consumer dollars on the line, platforms must optimize their streaming capabilities to provide a synchronized, real-time experience. When this happens the micro-wagering door can officially be opened, and U.S. sports betting potential can be fully realized.

[Editor's note: This is a contributed byline from Phenix. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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