Q&A: Phenix’s Jed Corenthal on Super Bowl streaming latency and the future of live betting
Ryan Butler: Your company is at the forefront of monitoring the lag between on-field play and that difference between what viewers see on their screens and what bettors see in their sportsbooks. What are some key figures?
Jed Corenthal: “I hesitate to say how we’re going to be this Sunday. But I can only tell you that we were on average about 10 seconds worse in 2022 than we were in 2021.”
“Overall it’s 50 to 55 seconds behind the field of play. We’ve been doing this for a while. And to be perfectly frank, it’s sort of crazy to me that it’s still happening.”
“When we first started, our technology was kind of nascent, and we were still growing, but now we’ve proven scale. In fact, we’re the only ones who have proven scale at real time. And this lag doesn’t have to exist anymore. The 50, 55-second delays, it’s not necessary. It’s very frustrating from a bettor’s perspective.”
RB: From your perspective, what does this look like practically for bettors?
JC: “The key is to have it integrated, meaning having the data and the video together. You can go on a lot of sportsbooks today and bet solely on the data being provided through the books’ lines and you’ll be pretty close to real time on the data. But if you have any interest in watching it anywhere then you can’t look at the data because if you look at the game you’re too far behind.”
“We’re at a point now where you’re betting and then you’re watching and you’re not only hoping that the bet that you made comes to fruition but that it actually gets placed.”
RB: What does this mean from the sportsbooks’ perspective?
JC: “All the research shows that watching the game while you’re betting drives engagement through the roof. So, ultimately, the sportsbooks are going to have to integrate real-time video into their product to match and sync with the data they’re getting.”“They’re not there yet. But hopefully, there’ll be enough pressure on them and the data providers like Sportradar and IMG and Genius to change their tech stacks, reduce the latency and make it a ‘watch and bet’ rather than a “bet and watch’.”
RB: How does this factor into micro bets and other future forms of betting?
JC: “In-play betting in this country is essentially, ‘will the Warriors score more points in the fourth quarter than they did in the third quarter?’ and time isn’t really as big an issue where there isn’t a latency or delay issue, because you’ve got what seems like half an hour before you see the result. But when you start thinking about the potential of bets like ‘will Steph Curry hit the two free throws that he’s about to go take’ or ‘will Pat Mahomes throw a touch on the next play?’ there isn’t enough time to change the odds and make that bet.”
“Companies like Simplebet and Betr and some of the others out there that are working on that sort of micro-betting odds and data integration, so it’s going to become more and more prevalent. When you match the video to that, which is what we can do, and now you’re talking about how many more bets can be taken.”
“Now you’re talking about how many more bets can be taken in a game, and you magnify that by ‘zillions’ it’s pretty mind-numbing to think where sports betting handle could go.”
RB: What could it look like from a financial perspective if we had true, real-time integration?
JC: “In 2023, we’ll probably see in the neighborhood of $100-$110 billion or more in overall handle, and what percentage of that could increase if we had real-time data and bets with watching in bettors mobile sportsbooks? Could it be a 10% increase? That’s $10 billion right there. I think every sportsbook would sign up for a chunk of that today if they knew that was the case. That’s something that we’re working on to hopefully show them that it is that significant.”
RB: How do you think sportsbooks reach that point where they make a substantial push to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, lag?
JC: “I wish it was one thing, but I think it’s going to have to be a bit of a groundswell. And I think there’s going to have to be enough people that go to social media and start complaining about their streams. We’re seeing it already.”
“With the Super Bowl, we’re going to see that increase in bettors, and we’re going to see if people will flood the “Twittersphere,” if you will, and complain about the fact that the stream is 60 seconds behind what is offered on the sportsbooks, or if it’s still buffering or jittery.”
“It doesn’t have to be that case anymore.”