Sports media specialist LiveScore Group has acquired South African software development specialist Wonderlabz in an undisclosed deal.
LiveScore Group, which operates its flagship LiveScore sports content brand as well as B2C brands LiveScore Bet and Virgin Bet, said the acquisition adds “significant scale” to the group “at a time of substantial growth.”
The addition of Wonderlabz will accelerate the process of product development and increase the group’s ability to expand into further key territories, it added.
Wonderlabz is a software development firm offering a player account management (PAM) system called Lithium as well as a back-office platform, and is home to “renowned software talent and engineers,” according to LiveScore Group.
LiveScore previously had a 25% shareholding in the business, which “played a vital role in the evolution of the app and digital platforms for LiveScore Group’s key brands including LiveScore and LiveScore Bet.”
Through the acquisition, LiveScore has increased its holding in Wonderlabz to 100% and added more than 100 new staff to its global headcount.
The deal “substantially increases the group’s in-house capability and establishes a new tech hub in an emerging market,” LiveScore said.
The deal comes a little over a year after the announcement of a £50m strategic investment into LiveScore Group from Swiss-based media and tech company Ringier AG.
“I’m thrilled to announce our acquisition of Wonderlabz, one of the most exciting businesses in the global software development space,” said LiveScore Group CEO Sam Sadi (pictured left).
“We have grown our relationship with the fantastic people and experts at Wonderlabz over many years, and their stand-out Lithium PAM platform has played a critical role in the ongoing success of our industry-leading convergence strategy.
“I’m personally excited to work even closer with the team in Cape Town to help continue to develop a world-class tech hub in the area, one which increases the technical capability of our business and will fuel the potential for further growth,” Sadi concluded.
Wonderlabz CEO Ben Johansen (pictured right) added: “This is a hugely exciting day for Wonderlabz, as we officially join the pioneering LiveScore Group family.
“Over recent years we have built an outstanding business centred on world-class software development talent, working with the likes of LiveScore Group to develop industry-leading tech solutions.
“There is no doubt that in LiveScore Group, we join one of the most forward-thinking and innovative businesses in the sports media and betting worlds. I cannot wait for our people to continue playing a key role in what comes next.”
Kambi Group has signed a long-term agreement to provide its sportsbook to the LiveScore Group, with the planned rollout set to commence in Q1 2024.
LiveScore had been previously relying on SBTech for its sportsbook platform. This agreement predated DraftKings’ acquisition of SBTech in 2020.
Kambi expects the partnership to “contribute material revenue” from H2 2024 onwards as its products are distributed across LiveScore Group’s business.
As part of the deal, Kambi will deliver its sports betting platform, managed platform, AI-powered trading products and Bet Builder to LiveScore’s betting brands LiveScore Bet and Virgin Bet.
Kambi CEO and co-founder Kristian Nylén commented: “With well-established sportsbook brands in several markets, an immensely popular media platform that acts as an effective acquisition channel, and an experienced leadership team, LiveScore Group has all the ingredients Kambi looks for in an operator.
“In partnering with Kambi and integrating our sportsbook, LiveScore Group will have the quality and trusted sportsbook it requires to fulfil its ambitious growth plans and we’re delighted to be supporting them on that journey.”
The LiveScore Group
Formed in 2019 following a spin-off from Gamesys Group, the LiveScore Group is the operator of sports media brand LiveScore, a real-time sports data provider and streaming service, with more than 50 million daily users across 200-plus territories.
The group’s sportsbook brands are currently active in several markets across the globe, including a strong presence in the UK, and the deal currently spans the group’s subsidiaries in Gibraltar, Malta and Nigeria.
“We are thrilled to join forces with Kambi, the premier independent sportsbook provider, as we look to accelerate our growth in the global sports betting market,” said LiveScore Group CEO Sam Sadi.
“By combining the strengths of Kambi’s technology with LiveScore Group’s world-class sports betting brands, media assets and in-house product teams, I believe we are ideally equipped to create truly memorable experiences for our users,” he added.
Boosted by major investment
Last year, LiveScore Group’s ambitions received a significant boost with a £50m strategic investment from Swiss media and technology giant Ringier AG.
This cash infusion was seen as pivotal to LiveScore Group’s mission to accelerate its growth.
The group said it has plans to expand the LiveScore Bet brand further in partnership with Kambi.
Kambi’s shares saw a 3% boost in trading after the partnership announcement.
LiveScore Group – the global sports media business – and Unofficial Partner – the leading sports business podcast – are joining forces in London on September 28th to stage the industry’s greatest debate yet on the emerging topic of convergence.
Headlined by LiveScore Group’s CEO Sam Sadi, ‘The Unofficial Partner Convergence Brainstorm’ will bring together global experts on the impact of the convergence model within the sports media, betting, entertainment industries.
Comprised of three brands including LiveScore, one of the world’s leading real-time sports updates and streaming service providers, and award-winning sportsbooks LiveScore Bet and Virgin Bet, LiveScore Group has seen record-breaking success through its unique and pioneering model which converges the worlds of sports media and sports betting.
Taking place at the striking ArcelorMittal venue in Stratford, the event will feature a number of esteemed panellists guests – including leading executives from the likes of Deutsche Bank and FootballCo.
Three sets of three panellists will take to the stage to brainstorm an array of viewpoints, opinions, each bringing different backgrounds in collaboration with a live audience, the evening will be led by podcast host Richard Gillis, and will subsequently feature in an upcoming Unofficial Partner podcast episode.
Confirmed Panellists Include:
- Sam Sadi – CEO at LiveScore Group
- Samuel Westberg – CRO & Co-Founder of Livelike
- James Liddy – Managing Director and Head of Gaming, Lodging & Leisure EMEA at Deutsche Bank
- Elizabeth Dunn – Partner (Sports & Gambling) at Bird & Bird LLP
- Juan Delgado – CEO at Footballco
- Elliot Richardson, One Football
- Nic Coward, Partner at Portas and chair of Sportable, Former EPL General Secretary and British Horseracing Authority CEO
What is convergence?
Against a wider backdrop of sports consumption becoming inefficient and uneconomical, modern sports fans are expected to navigate a fragmented ecosystem delivered by different brands and companies across various apps, platforms and devices. Completing basic and repeatable actions require managing multiple paid subscriptions and accounts.
LiveScore Group’s pioneering ‘convergence’ strategy improves the symbiotic relationship between the sports media and sports betting industries, delivering a better experience for its users. The group runs a connected ecosystem that converges the two sectors, with a model that is enhancing the experience for sports fans all over the world.
Through world-class sportsbooks and a dedicated media arm delivering content, news and real-time scores updates for fans – LiveScore Group showcases a successful and impactful convergence model.
Sam Sadi, CEO of LiveScore Group, commented:
“At LiveScore Group, we know that sports media and sports betting are long-term friends. Our convergence strategy is based on constructing an integrated ecosystem which delivers significantly better returns than that of just a betting operator or media company.
“That’s why I’m thrilled to invite the industry to openly examine the convergence model, to analyse how it works and consider its long-term potential. At LiveScore Group we are a living and breathing case study of its success, and I’m looking forward to a fantastic evening of debate.
Richard Gillis, Founder of Unofficial Partner, the sports business podcast company added:
“We’ve heard the hype around the convergence of sports media and betting. So, we’re going to put some difficult questions to a group of smart people and see what happens.
Where’s the money going to come from? That’s the issue facing every C Suite sports executive working today. If Gen Z ain’t buying the traditional sports subscription bundle, the numbers don’t add up.
So, what role will gambling money play, or be allowed to play in convergence? The implications of that question affect every sport, every gambling firm and most importantly, every sports fan.”
Tickets to The Unofficial Partner Convergence Brainstorm with LiveScore Group, are available here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a meeting with Sam in NYC between March 7-9th.