In an interview with SBCAmericas, Brian Clayton, IMG Arena Sales Director North America, discussed why live streaming is vital when it comes to maximising engagement amongst sports fans.

He underlined that the true value of live streaming comes in building brand loyalty and deepening engagement on platforms.

As sports betting brands expand into the US market, Clayton emphasised some of the key differences between the way in which US sports fans consume sport, compared to the European market.

He stated: “The American sports fan is one of the most sophisticated on the planet. Consumer broadcast expectations are sky high, thanks to the incredible level of production values.

“Meaningful experiences and fan engagement will be more important than ever in the
acquisition and retention of customers as the market continues to evolve. Trust and brand
recognition will be key to player acquisition, with the provision of official sports content
playing a major role in consumer confidence with events such as the Miami Open and Indian Wells providing a platform for engagement and consumer trust.

“The obvious difference in streaming preferences will come from what the American audience likes to consume and wager on. Unlike most other sports betting markets around the world, the early numbers indicate the US market will be heavily seasonal and event-driven – reflecting the traditional windows for basketball (October-June) and soccer (September-February). Although this does result in year-long coverage, it also reflects the limitations of a market focus solely on American sports. Although basketball offers a more global reach, regular 365, 24/7 betting activity from US global sports such as tennis and golf will be the key to avoid peaks and troughs in activity.

Sports fans have an insatiable appetite for live sports programming, and they are very clear they want access to these events wherever they go and on any device they choose. Creating brand loyalty is one of the major challenges faced by sportsbook operators.”

Underlying how IMG aims to continue striving ahead in terms of live streaming, he continued: “We are committed to offering official live streaming rights from the world’s highest-profile sports and events. Among our rights, we hold the largest portfolio of men’s tennis, world-class soccer from around the globe, and many more partnerships with the top international sports federations including the NHL, EuroLeague and World Snooker.

“Our growing, multi-sport offering includes more than 20,000 events and helps us to serve
more than 100 B2C brands, including bet365, Hong Kong Jockey Club, William Hill, GVC,
Ladbrokes, Sky Bet and Betsson. Consumers can find quality sporting action at the click of a button – at any time of day or night. We also offer full operator control, possess long-term rights deals, and have a best-in-class analytics suite. This combination makes IMG ARENA’s streaming product unique and number one for round the clock, round the world entertainment.”

He continued: “Nearly 40 million users watch official IMG ARENA live streams. The average time spent watching the stream is nearly seven minutes when you consider that the average time on a web page is forty seconds this is especially significant. Our content and the quality of our product delivers a best-in-class fan experience.

“We continually invest in our live streaming portfolio adding nearly 3000 events in 2018
alone. This ever-increasing delivery of premium content in a broadening portfolio helped
drive engagement in 2018: tennis hours viewed (+16%), North American coverage (+41%), soccer views (+25%). The increase in content has delivered an additional 4,000,000 additional viewers worldwide and the average stream duration increased 54 seconds (+19%).”