The future is bright for esports

Rohini Sardana, Head of Product Propositions at SIS recently spoke to SBC regarding the growth in esports and how SIS Competitive Gaming is helping betting operators increase their esports betting turnover.

1) How important is the recent SIS Competitive Gaming deal struck with bet365 in helping to bring the product to a mainstream audience? How has the new service been received by bettors?

To have successfully launched our innovative esports betting product, SIS Competitive Gaming, with bet365, one of the world’s leading online operators, represents a landmark deal for this proposition. The size of bet365’s customer base will undoubtedly bring our esports offering to the attention of a wider audience and help continue the growth of the product.

SIS Competitive Gaming was designed specifically to appeal to existing sports and casual bettors, in a format that is familiar to them, featuring fast-paced action that allows multiple betting opportunities. Ease of access and familiarity has led to great engagement amongst bet365 customers with our product since launching in May this year. The content, the frequency of events, and the live streaming has proved very popular, which is testament to the fact that SIS Competitive Gaming was shaped with operators and bettors in mind.

2) SIS recently doubled the output of content for its SIS Competitive Gaming product – is this a reflection of strong customer demand during its launch as well as a wider surge in the popularity of esports?

Absolutely – SIS Competitive Gaming has resonated extremely well with existing bettors, with frequent betting opportunities to drive turnover.

The esports betting market has continued to grow and accelerated during the absence of live sports due to COVID-19 restrictions. We saw new providers with sports-related esports content emerge, however, a closer look at those products suggests a lack of experience in developing content that works well for betting operators, with high levels of latency and long response times remaining an issue for many providers.

In contrast, SIS Competitive Gaming has proven more engaging for bettors and more profitable for operators, due to the high production quality, integrity, and low-latency live streams, all helping to drive higher margins for customers.

3) What has the expansion of the SIS Competitive Gaming service involved and what can customers expect to receive as part of the full offering?

We’ve increased our service with a 16 hour broadcast of back-to-back matches offering multiple betting opportunities, with the SIS Blitz League comprising of NBA2K20 games now taking place every weekday, Monday to Friday from 15:00-06:59 BST (10:00-01:59 EDT).

We’re looking to introduce more events and content over the coming months, which will diversify our offering even further, catering to a global betting market.

4) How does SIS Competitive Gaming differ and stand out to other existing esports products on the market?

SIS Competitive Gaming was developed with betting at the forefront of our thinking.

This is unlike other esports betting solutions, that are typically not optimised for betting, as they often have relatively poor streaming/data latency. In addition, the integrity of tournaments is a recurring challenge for events organisers and betting operators. One of the key features of our product and a key differentiator is the robust integrity measures that support our events and prices. SIS is one of the few, if not the only non-endemic esports supplier to invest significantly in this area and we are seeing that investment pay off.

SIS Competitive Gaming addresses these key issues and is deployed in a proven format that delivers higher profits for bookmakers than competitor products.

5) There has been a significant rise in the popularity of esports during the lockdown period. Do you expect this to continue or will there be a drop-off as more and more live sports make their full returns?

To some degree, bettors will naturally return to their favorite live sports and betting on those events as lockdown measures ease globally. However, recent data from the Gambling Commission show a continuation in a higher level of betting on esports even as traditional live sports have reappeared, which is very encouraging for the esports betting sector.

We see our content as being an important part of the offering for sportsbooks going forward, primarily as a complementary product to live sports, similar to virtuals albeit with higher engagement factor, rather than a direct competitor to mainstream esports, for example.

6) With this in mind, what are the key steps that sportsbooks need to consider to ensure their esports offering remains relevant and continues to attract even more bettors?

Industry statistics from the recent months have shown the surge in popularity of esports and the future is certainly bright for the vertical. There is a real opportunity for sportsbooks to drive increased profitability by ensuring that their offer is built with existing bettors in mind.

Key to this is the way in which sportsbooks present the SIS offering to their customers, e.g. through product placement, engagement, and scheduling. SIS Competitive Gaming has core features built in to grab the attention of bettors while also helping them understand the product and engage with it for example, though in-play betting to drive turnover.

SIS has proven experience in adding value to content by creating high value betting propositions for its partners and SIS Competitive Gaming has benefited from this expertise right from the start.