Taking a ‘media-first’ approach to the sports betting landscape is key to standing out from the crowd, according to John Levy, CEO of theScore.
In the fifth instalment of the SBC Leaders podcast, Levy joined SBC’s Global Relationships Director Kelly Kehn in conversation about how the company made the leap from television to mobile only, and the difficulties of competing against bigger entities.
Providing a background of theScore, Levy reaffirmed that sports betting is simply a component of the entire sports ecosystem, with the company establishing itself as a ‘media-first’ brand.
“That’s one of the prime differentiators between us and everybody else that’s gravitated towards the gaming space, particularly as of late when it’s been so hot,” Levy began. “For us, it’s been this evolution and this path going back almost forever, going back to the old cable days which led to television, and television led to digital, and digital led to sports betting.
“It’s always been this continuum. There’s never been a cut-off date, even though there were lots of big events along the way. It was the fundamental, inner something that drove us towards this. In the current state, you’re right, it’s media-first. That’s one of the prime differentiators of us versus the other guys.
“We’re just treating sports betting as a part of why people are passionate about sports, quite frankly. It’s not this big to-do that’s brand new or that’s just surfaced. People have been betting on sports for time and eternity, so that’s how we treat it.”
theScore, which boasts the second most popular sports app across the US, first developed a ‘vision into mobile’ over a decade ago when Levy and his team began to capture the attention of a younger demographic.
In turn, this sparked the firm’s first foray into the world of mobile technology before taking the plunge to become mobile-only.
He continued: “The reality is, when we had the TV network which we started in the mid-90s in Canada, it was a different type of sports broadcast entity. It was data on a screen, there was a ticker on it at the bottom which had the odds on and it never went away – it was a more open and authentic approach to sports.
“Our hosts didn’t wear a shirt and tie, they weren’t button-down stiffs like the other networks like ESPN or our version of that in Canada which was TSN. Our guys were like guys you went to the bar with.
“So, when they were covering a game on the desk and somebody kicks a field goal that takes it over a 14 of 18 point spread in the last minute of the game – and it really didn’t matter to the outcome of the game but it did matter to the spread – the other networks would straighten themselves up and say, ‘I’m sure that would be interesting to certain people’, but our guys would be ripping their hair out because they just blew a $25 or $50 bet.
“It was that openness and authenticity that we built the brand on. It resonated with this younger audience. That younger audience that was starting to consume content, not just sports content but all content, were starting to move into mobile technology.”
Levy also touched on forthcoming legalisation of sports betting in Canada and tells Kehn how nothing will change in the way that they present and operate their product during the discussion, which can be watched in full here.
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