With sports betting spreading across the U.S. and mobile betting becoming a norm, operators are now looking for something that will differentiate them from the pack.
For BetMGM that means creating a handheld sportsbook experience through the creation of its own live streaming platform. BetMGM now offers free live streams of European soccer leagues, tennis, and other select sports. To watch, users have to register on the app and make a deposit in the account, which will then allow them to stream in-app or a browser.
Users will be able to make in-play bets while watching the live streams through a quick-bet function, said Ray Doyle, director of digital media at Roar Digital, the operator of BetMGM. The feature is available anywhere the app is currently available and will immediately be available in new regions and states as they open up.
“We know that high-quality, live sports content dramatically enhances the in-play betting experience, and we wanted users to be able to watch and enjoy sporting events from around the world conveniently within the BetMGM app,” Doyle said. “We’re confident that adding to our live video content offering provides a unique user experience and can ultimately set BetMGM’s platform apart from the rest.”
FanDuel began offering similar streaming last year.
The race to become a market leader in the mobile betting market will have significant ramifications. The Wall Street Journal ran an article in September 2019 declaring mobile betting as the money maker as sports betting continues to legalize across the country, citing 80% of all legal wagers in New Jersey coming from mobile users – $2.4 billion of the total $3.2 billion bet in the first year.
BetMGM streams a wide variety of properties from across tennis and soccer. That includes the ATP Cup, ATP 1000s, and, in May, Roland Garros in tennis. In soccer, a wide swath includes English Championship; English League 1 and 2; English EFL Cup; French Cup; Dutch Eredivisie; Croatian First Football; Danish 1st Division; Czech first league and Czech Cup; Polish Premier League; Belarussian Premier League; Swedish 1st Division; and Scotch Premier, Championship and two cups.
Doyle said the broadcast rights come from a variety of sources and declined to share specifics on costs. MGM and Verizon Media – which includes BetMGM powering Yahoo Sports betting – do have a partnership, so there certainly could be more coming down the line.
Doyle was coy about the potential expansion of viewing options, including original content concepts.
“All we can say right now is that there are a wide variety of options we’re considering for how to enhance our live-streamed sports content,” he said. “We plan to grow the number and types of sports events live-streamed. The events that are currently available … make it among the leading providers of live sports streaming in mobile betting, and we’re just getting started.”
Live streaming sports and connecting that directly to betting in an app might seem innovative and potentially game-changing on the surface. However it’s not all that new of a concept for those already accustomed to sports betting, said Joe Mahan, Temple University associate professor and chair of the department of sport & recreation management.
“Integrating live sports in the betting app or mobile situation will, on some level, replicate what was in the sportsbook experience where you can watch games and bet during games,” Mahan said. “It changes the landscape a little, I don’t know if it brings new bettors to the table, but it will provide alternative enjoyment for the people that already bet.”
For the most part, Mahan expects sports betting will remain reasonably similar to what is available today as it continues to become more mainstream.
The industry will likely continue to see more partnerships between media organizations and betting companies – like MGM with Verizon Media and Caesars with Bleacher Report – as they continue to compete for who drives content.
He mentioned the Philadelphia NBC affiliate’s BetCast, which simulcasts Sixers games with studio hosts providing in-game betting advice, as a potential next frontier.
“Predicting the future of sports betting in media is like predicting the new frontier in digital media in general,” Mahan said. “It’s inevitable, whether people agree with it or not, it’s here. Sports media organizations not getting into the fray are selling the farm.”
BetMGM is focused on driving its app growth and opening several states and Doyle expects heavy promotions to launch those states. But it’s not just the virtual world.
“[We’ll] be beefing up our physical presence at MGM’s east and west coast properties,” he said. “It is an incredibly exciting time of growth for us.”