There’s Only ONE Show: Live betting, Latency and ROI with iGameMedia

Revolutionary, Belfast-based, iGameMedia is changing the pace, and face, of the sports betting industry by employing a streamlined ONE approach to API integration – and providing ultra-low latency streams and data that assist operators in maximising their ROI.

iGameMedia’s Commercial Director Chris Cousin gave iGamingFuture exclusive deep-dive access to explore its sportsbook and live betting B2B solutions and products with iGF Head of Content Curtis Roach.

We began by asking Chris:

Who are iGameMedia? And what core technical solutions do you bring to the sportsbook market?

“iGameMedia is a leading sports streaming platform with an extensive history in B2B ultra-low latency streaming, being neutrality focussed between sports rights holders and online operators. We deliver the ultimate user experience to our customers and their audiences.

“Today, the business operates four unique verticals aligned to the sports betting space:

Sportsbook Solution – Our ONEPlatform API is the perfect Sportsbook content solution, consolidating all acquired rights holder content into one unified API and delivering outright efficiency for Sportsbooks and platform providers.

Rights Holders – Our extensive broadcast infrastructure provides sports content rights holders with a full technological service solution designed to deliver real-time video encoding and transmission exclusively over IP to all major broadcasters, bookmakers and commercial premises.

Retail – ONE – Retail is the leading video aggregation and distribution platform specifically designed for the betting retail industry to simplify content access needs and maximise content exposure to customers.

Trading – iGameMedia’s ONEOTT application is a video streaming service which delivers direct feeds from sporting rights holders worldwide into a centralised B2B platform of high definition, sub-second latency live sports suitable for the in-play betting market management, bet settlement, player props and data verification for the live trading floors.”

Today, it’s recognised that Operators and Managed Sportsbook Providers requiring access to live content need to integrate with a variety of APIs from respective suppliers. What specific benefits does your ONEPlatform solution provide an operator to reduce this technical demand?

“A unique approach iGameMedia takes is the aggregation of multiple supplier APIs that consolidates all streaming access rights into one singular API and low latency player solution.

“Infront Bettor | StatsPerform | SportRadar | GeniusSports | IMG Arena | + Many more

“The iGameMedia ONEPlatform has established integrations with all major content providers that expose all streaming content agreed by the sportsbook operator – delivered as a unified content API. Our solution includes overall API change management and maintenance requirements from all third-party providers managed on behalf of our integrated customers.

“Once an operator is integrated with iGameMedia, external factors such as who owns the rights for live content become irrelevant from a technical perspective, allowing operators to simply focus on the commercials for live content with the newly chosen provider.

“In addition, iGameMedia is developing a simplified Content CMS dedicated to sportsbook operators, providing full visibility over their content selections and respective third-party content assignments. The iGameMedia CMS solution removes the need for traditional “Excel” based fixture management practices and consolidates all providers’ content and assignments in one simple digital application.

“We believe our ONEPlatform API is the perfect live content solution, delivering outright efficiency for sportsbooks and platform providers that consolidate all development efforts, simply allowing operators to launch their content offering within days!”

The evolution of data collection and the ability to collect and distribute live match data means that customers now expect a real-time experience. It is recognised that the live stream is often out of sync with the data for the same game. The end result is a direct challenge to user engagement levels for the live stream. What role is iGameMedia taking to address this industry challenge?

“For the past 10-plus years live streaming on operator websites has not evolved across the live sports spectrum, with the average latency being delivered sitting between seven-to-nine-seconds for an end-user. However, the evolution of data collection and being able to collect and distribute live match data has come a long way. With scoreboards and markets delivering a real-time data experience, the end result makes the live stream simply out of sync for the same game.

“This creates a direct challenge to end-user engagement times, shorter page retention and an indirect reduction to in-play betting opportunities. Today we are seeing operators challenging the ROI live streaming brings and how to attribute true market value associated.

“As a result, iGameMedia is the first business to launch ultra-low latency (ULL) as standard for sports streaming, making available–to all our rights partners–the option to deliver content via our leading ONEPlatform API solution – in ultra-low latency. The service is delivered with a fixed latency of two-seconds, aligning the data and video latency for a massively enhanced user experience.”

Within this industry, the role of data science has traditionally been underplayed and is commonly seen as just one of many tasks that software developers are responsible for. How do you think the impact of professional data scientists will change the shape of our sector going forward, and how is iGameMedia leveraging this to develop new products and solutions?

“Our investment in data science as a core business-supporting function has given us the opportunity to fully utilise this specialised skill set and streamline solutions that are manually managed today. A recent innovation we bring to the market is our ONEMap product, which utilises a single API instance and exposes the respective data/market IDs of all third-party vendors associated with the live stream. Our AI and ML technology, fully implemented by data science, delivers a truly automated solution with an accuracy rating of 99.7 percent first-time mapping achieved.

“At its core, ONEMap’s proprietary AI model utilises advanced algorithms and powerful machine learning capabilities to establish precise connections between AV provider data and event creation data on the ONEPlatform.

“The next evolution we are addressing using data science is the inconsistencies experienced across the industry pertaining to live content consumption reporting for operators. Our investment in data science to deliver consistent reporting, performance trends, insights and market relevance will allow operators to truly understand the value of streaming and deliver ROI justification.”

As a business that specialises in Live Streaming, what critical elements should sportsbook operators consider when considering offering live content for their sportsbook sites?

“The original evolution in providing live streaming was focused on powering the in-play betting product, allowing users to engage with the live stream and consider what in-play markets related to the live action to consider. This specific solution remains very much in demand and continues to be viable with the advances in live match data availability, with the addition of player prop markets now offering a new alternative in-play betting experiences focused on your favourite players! However, as we see it, the importance remains on continual investment in the technological advancements of live streaming, needing to be aligned to that of data to deliver a much more enriched user experience.

Content Latency – For the past 10-plus years, live streaming on operator websites’ has not evolved across the live sports spectrum, with average latency between seven-to-nine-seconds for an end-user. However, the evolution of data collection and being able to collect and distribute live match data has come a long way, with scoreboards and markets delivering a real-time experience, meaning the end result of the live stream is simply out of sync with the data, watching highlights you could say! Even recently, we were told by a significant operator during the Australian Open that he had to effectively cover up the stream due to the speed at which the data was being received!

“There is also a common misconception that lower latency streaming will cannibalise the fast data rights, which is not true. Suppliers who create pricing and data feeds from content to which they do not have official rights do so by scraping the data on the operator sites that have purchased the official fast data.

“Sure, video can support this function, but it is utterly unrealistic to think that by providing video at the same speed as your data, you are cannibalising your data rights, which is why we champion a two-second fixed latency creating and level playing field customer experience that users would seem logical. In fact, the opposite is true; by providing fast data and slow video, content owners are de facto cannibalising the value of the video as it is rendered almost pointless, especially in fast sports such as tennis.

Content Selection – The world of Live streaming powering a sportsbook typically originated from the need for customer acquisition and utilising top-tier rights as a means to grow market share in a given territory. In recent years, we have seen a significant shift in how operators truly value live streaming within their product, to the point whereby ROI is being seriously reviewed.

“The balance of live content on a sportsbook that is also available on mainstream broadcast and OTT subscriptions is directly impacting the core USP of live streaming, especially for high-profile events. As a result, the second-screen betting experience is becoming increasingly prevalent, and the streaming of lower-tier rights on betting sites is becoming increasingly popular as punters need more ways of engaging with lower-tier sports and events.

“Additionally, it helps the rights holders and federation bring new levels of interest to their sports/tournaments that were previously not considered viable. Nowadays, lower-tier events and more niche sports are leading to an increased turnover on matches that may not have garnered much interest at all without the accompanying video.

“As we continually invest and adapt our technology with streaming, we believe for operators to maximise their success, focus should be given to these key specifics:

Technical Simplification – Consider the technical demands associated with streaming integration and, in particular, around rights movements from respective providers that will change over time.

Content Mapping – Consider how mapping third-party IDs need to be managed to maximise your content utilisation.

Content Latency – What drives user engagement and retention to a sportsbook when viewing a stream. When you offer live odds/scoreboards and streaming, what does today’s experience look like compared to how it should look.

Content selection – Should flexibility around your content selections relevant to the operating market become a primary objective to maximise customer acquisition, increase turnover, and improve margin performance? Different territories will have various demands on content, so it’s important to consider how you can stand out from your competitors to achieve your primary objective.”

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