Ahead of attending iGaming NEXT NYC, LiveScore Group CEO Sam Sadi speaks exclusively about the evolution of sports betting and how the company’s innovative business model is shaping the future of the industry.
iGN: What is LiveScore Group’s mission?
At LiveScore Group we are taking two industries worth approximately £100bn each per year and striving to improve their symbiotic relationship.
Sports betting and sports media are long-term friends, but our strategy is to construct a unique integrated ecosystem that delivers significantly better returns than that of just a betting operator or media company.
Individually, there are several problems which exist within the two respective industries. Looking first at the media side, we are seeing existential threats to traditional business models with “subscription fatigue” and “cord cutting” trends accelerating every year.
Whereas, when it comes to sports betting, the existing unit economics no longer work as well as in days past, in the context of increased regulation and the hugely competitive landscape.
Our innovative business model that converges these two allows us to be disruptive in both sectors.
iGN: Sportsbooks and sports media businesses have been around for decades. Why is it only now that they are being brought together in this way?
You are right, online sports betting has been in existence for over two decades. However, what many fail to realise is the most prosperous sportsbooks owe their success not solely to the superiority of their products or brand, but also to their ability to efficiently and cost-effectively acquire new users.
In pursuit of this goal, sports betting operators formed relationships with sports media businesses, which typically captured the attention of the audience that these operators sought to target.
While this relationship was successful, changes such as increased taxation, stricter regulations, heightened competition, and saturated markets have started to challenge the profitability of this rather inefficient relationship.
“What worked five to 10 years ago is either no longer effective or barely profitable, which means that without change, only the largest operators can remain viable, albeit with much smaller margins.”
Consequently, fewer new users are being created, and operators are having to vie for the same customer pool. What worked five to 10 years ago is either no longer effective or barely profitable, which means that without change, only the largest operators can remain viable, albeit with much smaller margins.
It is clear to see this situation presents a unique opportunity for new operators such as those at LiveScore Group. In our first three years of operation, we have demonstrated that combining these two industries into a single ecosystem provides greater value to the user, who currently relies on transactions with multiple separate businesses for their sports media content and sports betting opportunities.
As we further invest in our ecosystem with better, more relevant content and technological innovations, the value delivered to our users by offering different products seamlessly continues to grow, resulting in increased engagement, better retention, and a larger share of their consumption.
iGN: Have you identified any unique trends in the US market which may come over to Europe?
Since the introduction of regulated online sports betting in the US, we have observed that the fundamentals of success in the US are very similar to UK and other mature regulated markets.
From the importance of efficient and ROI positive marketing, to retention strategies and product innovations around in-play betting and SGPs, the US consumer has shown that their behaviours are quite similar to what we have seen over the years in Europe.
It is rather surprising that many US operators have chosen to ignore the operational knowledge and experiences accumulated in Europe and have executed unsustainable strategies.
This has resulted in an enormous amount of capital wasted, causing the substantial correction we have seen in the capital markets recently.
That said, many US operators have shown their agility and have transformed their focus towards better unit economics and sustainable growth, and I fully expect they will begin start leading on the innovation front soon.
iGN: Within LiveScore Group, you have two fast-growing sportsbooks in LiveScore Bet and Virgin Bet. What have been the challenges faced in creating two top-class sportsbooks?
The primary challenge we face is excelling in both the sports media and sports betting domains as this requires a multifaceted strategy and ultimate team symbiosis between our functions.
We firmly believe providing sports media content and sports betting services from a unified ecosystem will result in considerably higher returns. However, this can only be achieved if every element of the ecosystem outperforms its individual competitors in addition to being delivered in a seamless customer experience.
As LiveScore, we must deliver the fastest score updates, the most relevant news and the most compelling video content, while incorporating a range of features that keep users engaged.
Likewise, with LiveScore Bet and Virgin Bet, we must surpass the leading sportsbooks in the countries where we operate and provide a captivating reason for LiveScore users to shift their sports betting loyalty to us and remain with us.
Building the ecosystem is not the ultimate challenge; it is ensuring each component of the ecosystem exceeds anything currently available in the market.
iGN: LiveScore has made impressive strides in the free-to-air sports broadcasting space, headlined by its UEFA Champions League coverage in Ireland. How important are broadcast rights for a business like LiveScore?
As a company aiming to deliver the best and most relevant sports content to every fan in the world, live broadcast rights must be part of LiveScore’s long-term offering. However, we have to be sure we can make this model work before we can expand in this area and we will do It very selectively.
Over the last two decades, we have seen pay TV operators with satellite-based distribution dominate the live sports broadcast space. Through sales of high margin bundles, these operators have been able to deliver ever-increasing fees to rightsholders.
However, this business model is now facing an existential threat with more economic OTT distribution models and customers no longer willing to pay for bloated content bundles. The proliferation of piracy is unfortunately also adding to this threat.
“For a long time, I have wanted to consume sports content and participate in sports betting without the hassle of managing multiple subscriptions or browsing an endless number of apps and websites.”
It is clear that there is a need in the industry for alternative business models. Companies like Amazon and Apple have entered the market, attempting to leverage live sports content to seal their own “bundles” like Apple TV+ or Prime subscriptions.
However, we strongly believe our offering is more sustainable and can compete against these companies. With our business model, we are striving to deliver content for free to a much larger audience, which in the long run will generate more value for rights holders, teams, athletes and of course more loyalty from the fans.
The most desirable rights are extremely costly, often reaching billions of pounds. While we are not there yet to compete globally in this space, we have shown the impact of our business model in Ireland by becoming the only UEFA Champions League broadcaster in the world to show every game live and free to air.
iGN: What most excites you about where the industry is right now?
As an avid sports fan, I watch every live game on television and spend hours consuming all forms of sports content. What motivates me is the opportunity to offer solutions to the issues I have faced for many years as a sports enthusiast.
For a long time, I have wanted to consume sports content and participate in sports betting without the hassle of managing multiple subscriptions or browsing an endless number of apps and websites.
I firmly believe that there are millions of people who share the same sentiment and are dissatisfied with the current state of fragmented sports content delivery.
Working on a solution to this at LiveScore Group and increasing both the global popularity and consumption of sports brings me immense satisfaction.
If you’re interested in exploring investment or partnership opportunities with LiveScore Group, please contact email@example.com to arrange a meeting with Sam in NYC between March 7-9th.