Sportv Series Latin America debates on sport TV gamification and sport betting opportunities for OTTs

Another of the panels that took place last Tuesday, October 6th during the second Sportv Series Latin America edition, the first virtual event developed by Dataxis, was called ‘Sport TV gamification and sport betting opportunities for OTT’, in which experts on the matter participated, such as Gonzalo Perez, CEO at Apuesta Total (Peru); Rodrigo Carvajal, Executive Director at Teletrack (Chile); and Hugo Llanos, COO at Wplay.co (Colombia).

When asked about his vision on how to combine broadcasting with betting, Carvajal reported that ‘there is a need for opening our minds to do things. Teletrack has existed since 2000. However, before, it was a system that was restricted to betting on racetracks, and you could only implement bets online between branches. A gambler had to physically go to bet. But our aim was to turn Teletrack into a sports channel, and we opened a cable TV channel to show our horse races. As the years went by, we began to have the four main racetracks in Chile, but later we began to ask ourselves how we could attract more audiences, and younger. And there we saw an opportunity to take our TV broadcasts not only to all cable operators, but also to experiment with telephone and online betting’. Also regarding the impact of the pandemic on the business, Carvajal explained that ‘we had to close all the Teletrack branches, and today, 80% of sales is made through streaming. Therefore, the pandemic has been a great opportunity for us, because it forced us to test ourselves on a new platform, which we have to think that, until the middle of next year, we will keep it. And figures have been with us a lot. Although we have not yet sold what we sold for each horse race, we are close to it. The next step will be to create an application’.

‘We are part of the entertainment industry. And entertainment is always better if it is together with something visual’, said Llanos. ‘If it is possible for you to have that image that goes together with entertainment with the statistics, it will be better and it is in line with that gamification we want to find and with the purpose of generating engagement. If, for example, you have the opportunity to bet on a horse race, the fact of being able to see the horses,  another feeling is created, especially at this time, when we cannot attend face-to-face sporting events. The best thing is to bring the experience closer to users, and what better way than to do it through a live screen’, he added. In addition, he argued that it is necessary to generate greater synergy between broadcast and the betting world to innovate. On the other hand, Perez said that ‘in accordance with Llanos, we are in the world of entertainment. And today there is a lack of physical entertainment events due to the pandemic in many Latin American countries. Therefore, this is a new alternative that is presented and that has grown a lot. One of the basic activities of the human being is to play and entertain oneself. We are playful beings. Adding a visual part to sports betting is an undeniable plus and adds a different vision for sports as they are normally conceived. There are sports that, at least in Peru, are not so popular but, once the bet component is added, a different component is added too’.

On the other hand, Perez pointed out that in Colombia and Peru ‘there is a saturation of  betting companies in live sports broadcasts, and we must control it, because if we abuse this strategy, our results may be harmed. We have seen it in Italy; We are going to see it in Spain, where all advertising will be banned. The sad thing in this case is that not only will TV advertising be affected, but sponsorships on football club jerseys will also be limited, and many of them live thanks to sponsorships. The leagues that best know how to handle this issue will be the most successful ones’ Regarding the possible ways to avoid this situation, Perez said that ‘there are different methods, but self-regulation is the most important thing’.

Regarding measures to integrate sports betting with broadcast, Carvajal said that ‘the first step should be for countries to establish a legal framework. The second, also very important, is that there must exist a regulation. On our website, for example, we have three ways to identify that bettor is over 18 years old. We must promote sport and, if there is no regulation, an industry that allows one to be entertained and also eventually make money and play will be affected. And we must never lose sight of it, especially in this time, where we cannot attend any live sports. The gambling business generates more than USD 150 million annually. There must always be a regulator’. This way, Llanos said that in Colombia ‘we must talk and analyze what things sports betting and broadcasts need’. The executive stressed that ‘undoubtedly, regulation is important’, and quoted England as an example, where ‘from 2000 onwards, almost all teams are sponsored by betting companies. It is important to understand that if we organize ourselves, we can reach great achievements and we can develop strategies in our region’.

‘Sports betting is based on statistics’, said Perez. ‘As a medium alternative, we could try to make some type of banner, either vertical or horizontal, where we can show live statistics. This is the basis for many coaches in football to make decisions about their teams’. Llanos also expressed himself on the possibility for Wplay.co  to implement its own OTT: ‘Although it is something that could be tried, there are many streaming providers for betting companies. I do not know if it is something that can be done massively, especially for the rights, which belong to those who develop broadcasts. In addition, Perez said that he also saw the initiative as something distant. Likewise, Carvajal indicated that Teletrack’s OTT ‘helped us to end the myth that our audience, which is not usually based on young people, was digitally ignorant. In addition, we realized that we must strengthen it for the coming years. We had a start over that we did not think we were going to have before the pandemic. Now we must become more professionals in this to continue coexisting in the industry’.

Llanos highlighted that ‘there is a real interest in the region to move towards regulation. Everyone is looking at how this has been happening in other countries and how it can be applied in each country. Argentina has some regulated provinces, and Peru and Brazil are close to making a regulation. There is an optimistic view for the future for this industry to grow and, with this growth, there should be education and information about it ‘. According to Perez, ‘this industry needs to be regulated for the benefit of all actors who take part of it. The industry is expected to grow in a healthy way. You have to have a legal framework to do business for the benefit of the industry’.

‘Colombia was the first country in Latin America to have such regulation’, said Llanos. ‘There may be discussions and things to improve but, as a first step, results are being produced, and each betting company has a list of requirements that must be met, such as not having any underage on the websites. We are on the right path’, he added.