The team behind free sports betting picks website pickswise.com, Spotlight Sports Group, is a market-leading provider of data-driven sports betting content in the UK and US. USBettingReport.com sat down with Managing Director Harry von Behr to better understand how SSG help sportsbooks and affiliates convert more player through expert betting content.
Who is Spotlight Sports Group?
von Behr. Spotlight Sports Group (SSG) is a sports betting content and technology solutions provider with more than 35 years of experience creating quality and trusted content.
We serve two markets, both with the mission to create a stronger sports betting market. Our direct-to-consumer content sites Pickswise (in the US) and Racing Post (in the UK) provide free, quality, data-driven content that empowers bettors to make stronger decisions. We also partner with media outlets and sports betting operators to provide tools, like our live widgets, and sports betting content to create stronger relationships and increased interaction times and bets between the consumer and the site.
In fact, our data shows a 41% increase in dwell time when our content is added to a sportsbook and bettors are 39% more likely to place a bet after seeing our content.
Why is making the jump into the American sports betting market now so important for SSG? What is the major opportunity that you see?
von Behr. The American sports betting market is a massive opportunity for any company tangentially related to sports betting. As each individual state passes legislation on sports betting, an entirely new market and audience is created that companies need to understand and account for.
The market is extremely young and still focused on creating general awareness of brands and that sports betting is generally available. The next step in the evolution of this space is effective monetization and retention of bettors. That is where SSG can bring the biggest value to the market as we intersect sports betting, media and data convergence.
Sports betting content in America is still mainly found on traditional sports sites adding small pieces of sports betting content. With our expertise and tools, we have the ability to seamlessly integrate with any publisher or operator looking to add sports betting content to its media mix, which helps effectively monetize that site without the burden of a subscription.
What do you feel is Spotlight’s value proposition in the market?
von Behr. Our greatest value proposition to the American market is our heritage and pedigree. Spotlight has been creating content for more than 35 years. We understand how bettors act, what content resonates with them and have superior AI-driven technology at our disposal incorporating decades’ worth of data to ensure all of our content is fact-based, not pure opinion. We know how to build, monetize and scale sports betting properties.
Even the most seasoned content providers in America are only 4-5 years old at the moment. Nobody can compete with our history, knowledge base and expertise in the market. We are the ultimate example of how to pivot a traditional publishing business into a digital first sports betting content, media and affiliate focused business.
Spotlight Sports Group is also entirely dedicated to sports betting. We’re not a platform that provides sports news and information with a little bit of sports betting information. We’re 100% focused on sports betting, which provides extra value for bettors looking for strong, in-depth coverage.
Sports betting content is having a major moment currently as providers are being acquired by sportsbooks. Do you see value in being an independent content provider in a market where many providers are now integrated into the operators’ ecosystem?
von Behr. It’s extremely exciting to see sites like VSiN and Action Network get acquired. It shows the market just how critical content is in the acquisition, retention and convergence of bettors. For instance, bettors on average say that they only have actionable knowledge on 5% of games, leaving 95% of games open for content to influence and create confidence in bettors. We’ve certainly seen an increase in in-bound interest from publishers, sportsbooks and affiliate sites looking for solutions to effectively scale their content to become that value-add for bettors.
On our end, we do see being an independent content provider as a market differentiator. We have built our stellar global reputation on our quality, unbiased content and market-leading technology solutions. While those sites have been acquired by some of the market’s biggest players, they’ve also lost their impartiality to an extent. Bettors may ask themselves if the content that they happen to be reading is benefiting themselves, or the platform.
How are American sports bettors differ from European bettors? From how you’ve seen European sports bettors evolve, what are the natural next steps in the evolution of the American sports bettor?
von Behr. There are a few differences between American and European bettors, mostly stemming from the fact that the American market is just three years old and some Europeans have had legal sports betting markets for nearly three decades. As markets mature, so do the opinions and perceptions surrounding that market. The American sports betting industry is still working to gain acceptance and awareness, whereas it’s already ingrained in European sports culture.
The other distinct difference between American and European bettors is how they bet. European bettors tend to make more secure bets, betting on team outcomes and focusing on wagers that offer strong returns, like betting the moneyline. As the market in the US is still young, American bettors are heavily influenced by the lottery and DFS. The idea of the lottery is to bet small but win big. Americans tend to take that approach with sports betting, looking at parlays or putting money on games with extreme odds as a way to maximize their outputs. The function of DFS looks at specific individual player stats to win contests. Having that understanding allows American bettors to also focus more on player prop bets more than a European audience would.
When it comes to the affiliate market in America 80% of the money is said to be generated by a few strong affiliates. How can Spotlight’s solutions create a stronger and more sustainable affiliate network?
von Behr. Spotlight believes that the way to create a sustainable and profitable affiliate network is through free, consistent, quality data-driven content that informs, entertains and inspires bettors. Creating content takes time, effort and funds. To generate the revenue needed to create consistent and fresh content, the traditional model looks towards subscriptions as the only way to drive revenue. However, once a content site puts up a paywall, half of the audience is immediately turned away and another portion of the audience waivers on if the content is helpful enough to warrant the investment. Subscriptions aren’t a sustainable way to build a trusting audience and drive revenue.
We know that content creates a more informed and confident bettor, our data shows that 37% of bettors will bet with higher stakes on a platform with content. Bettors that find free, credible and quality content will return and tell others about that content. We’ve also found that sites with content see a 31% increase in net revenue than without it. You can’t put up barriers to the one thing growing your audience and enticing bettors into your affiliate funnel.
Our approach is to create partnerships with affiliate sites so they have access to Spotlight’s preeminent sports betting content. We use a blend of AI & machine learning technology to service our more than 400 person content team who create impartial, fast, data-driven insights. Much of the American sports betting content landscape is opinion-focused touts or raw numbers and straight betting lines. You either need to trust those touts or understand what those numbers and lines mean.
What really separates our content is that our writers take the raw data another step, helping bettors break down what these numbers mean, not just give gut-check opinions. The other benefit to our data-driven content is that it’s scalable. In order to keep your audience engaged, you need to constantly update your site with fresh content. Creating content takes time and can be costly. Our partners can effectively scale their output, save time and effort and feed the needs of their audience by supplementing their own original content with ours.
Free, scalable, data-driven content allows an affiliate’s audience to become more educated and confident, which in-turn, makes them likely to bet more frequently, which drives fees for the affiliate.
What’s next for Spotlight Sports Group? What are its goals for 2022?
von Behr. We’ve just begun our big push into the American sports betting market. Our US-focused content site Pickswise is the fastest growing independent sports betting content provider in North America. We’re making strategic hires to enrich our sales, content and technology functions with new talent from betting stalwarts like PointsBet, DraftKings and Vixio Gambling Compliance.