Keeping Fans Connected as Venues Reopen

Contributed by Venuetize in collaboration with Sports Innovation Lab

Now that fans are making their way back into venues, stadium operators need to ensure that fans feel safe and regain their sense of trust. Innovative technology partnerships are helping venues implement solutions that directly solve these most recent industry challenges that have surfaced as a result of the pandemic.

The graph below demonstrates average capacities from seven states across the U.S.

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Given the various capacity numbers, stadiums have been developing protocols for ingress, egress, mobile payments and ordering, and mobile ticketing. To ensure these protocols are appropriately deployed and made available to fans, venue operators need to have a strong connectivity infrastructure in place. With the proper infrastructure in place, venue operators can implement mobile-first experiences that will help fans navigate the venue safely - before, during, and after the game. In preparation for the return of fans, many venue operators have had to rush to fit years of technology innovation and planning into a single year’s time. Thankfully, most states have had a staggered approach as it relates to fan capacity allowed, granting teams a solid testing period for rolling out these new protocols and contactless-focused technology solutions. 

The graphs below show some of the requirements and specifications that stadiums in the U.S. are implementing.

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The pandemic has clearly accelerated the fan journey becoming a predominantly mobile-first experience. The data is showing that people want to go to live events again and that there is pent up demand, but they also want to feel safe. In order to instill consumer safety and confidence, sports franchises and venue operators have had to invest significant resources into technology and infrastructure upgrades. While these upgrades have been directly focused on safely bringing fans back to venues in the near term, there should be plenty of longer-term benefits that are a byproduct of these most recent investments.

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The data tells us that consumer expectations for visiting venues has shifted during the pandemic. By offering services that cater to these new self-service and frictionless expectations, venue operators can benefit significantly. The initial results from fans being back to venues are showing more transactions per fan, higher per caps, and more efficiency related to ingress and egress times. While it can be difficult to find silver linings from this past year, the new technology solutions being deployed in 2021 across sports and entertainment venues should pay dividends for many years to come.


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The Madness of Mobile Betting

Contributed by Myles Romm

March Betting Madness - Draft 3_25

The month of March can either be one of major disappointment or incredible happiness for college basketball teams and their respective fans. However, this year there seems to be a new winner and in a big way: mobile-betting operators. Recent legislation allowing for mobile-sports betting has led to a meteoric rise in gambling and profitable returns for these operators. This year alone, Forbes estimates that March Madness will lead to a record breaking $8.5 billion in betting transactions. March Madness has always drawn sports gamblers at significant engagement levels. Now, however, mobile betting has offered an easy and convenient way that has driven demand to extraordinary lengths. The future of interactive fandom has arrived, and mobile sports betting is leading the way.

Among the states that have legalized sports gambling, Michigan has quickly emerged as one of the states with the most room for growth. Michigan is a "No. 1 seed for online growth" in sports betting and iGaming, Bank of America Securities analyst Shaun Kelley said Monday. The betting numbers out of Michigan illustrate a clear desire for mobile betting and just how successful the industry will be as more states relax their gambling laws. Legal Sports Report writes, “Michigan posted the largest full opening month for any online sports betting states, topping $300 million in handle in January."

A rising star in the Michigan mobile betting space, BetMGM, maintains 25% of online betting in Michigan sitting right behind FanDuel. Yet, BetMGM is the only operator that made a profit as DraftKings and FanDuel ended up losing money by the end of January. This is most likely a result of the competitive bonuses operators are paying out as more companies enter the state of Michigan. Companies like WynnBet sportsbook, a relatively new operator in Michigan, is offering a $500-risk free bet for new users during March Madness. These promos and bonuses are standard among the operators—established or new—as they compete for new customers.

Michigan isn’t the only state where BetMGM is making headlines. In early March, BetMGM partnered with Buffalo Wild Wings to offer exclusive betting deals to individuals betting on the BetMGM app inside the restaurant. Using geolocation, the operator can target restaurant patrons and customize the betting experience along the way. This corporate partnership strategy is live in Colorado, New Jersey, Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee, and West Virginia, and points to interesting and creative ways these operators are trying to gain new customers.

Venuetize is working with our clients to integrate sports betting and gamification options into the mobile experience for fans. Whether delivering timely communications about an upcoming game, live odds and insights in team and venue apps, or using a geofence in venue to let VIPs know about a special offer they are eligible for if they visit the ‘sports lounge’ at the stadium - all bets are ‘on’ the table when it comes to the madness of mobile betting. Certain betting integrations allow engagement in a way that makes the sporting event more personal—essentially, there is more skin in the game and more excitement. The success witnessed with mobile sports betting from home will continue as fans re-enter stadiums. Teams and venues now have a measurable and proven tool to increase engagement and create a better (or bettor?) fan experience, which ultimately is increasing their bottom line.

 

Sources:

Venuetize Insights: Cashless Venues, Sports Betting, Name Image Likeness

Contributed by Todd San Jule, VP of Strategy and Sports Innovation Lab

It’s a New Year, and as we look to the next 12 months we see three primary themes that will define the sports industry in the US in 2021:

Theme #1: The Surge of Cashless Venues
Theme #2: US Sports Betting Boom
Theme #3: The Emergence of Name Image Likeness (NIL)

2021 VZ_SIL Research (Web Format) DAY 1

The Surge of Cashless Venues

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak and the suspension of most spectator sports in March 2020, there were just six professional venues that were 100% cashless. Just nine months later that number has grown to approximately 50 venues across five professional leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS), based on data that was compiled by Sports Innovation Lab (SIL). The number of cashless venues seems to be growing every week, as teams address safety concerns and fan anxiety by adding new touchless payment options. This new Touchless Fan Journey is made possible through emerging technology from companies such as Venuetize, a leading mobile technology and advanced e-commerce platform for the sports, hospitality, and entertainment industries.

From its proprietary database, SIL broke up 130 venues into five groups:

  • Fully Cashless Pre-Pandemic (5%) - These are the very few venues that made the switch to totally cashless pre-pandemic. They explicitly say on their website that they do not accept cash, and publicly announced this before March of 2020
  • Requiring Cashless Post-Pandemic (34%) - Venues who are not allowing fans that return to stadiums to use cash. This decision comes in conjunction with numerous other health protocols, such as mobile ticketing, social distancing, mask requirements, etc.
  • Leaning Into Cashless, No Commitment (28%) - Venues that have dabbled with cashless kiosks, cashless merchandise, or some form of part cashless, but are still not ready to make the full switch
  • Credit/Debit, Cash, Mobile Pay (25%) - Venues that still rely on cash, and may have recently adopted POS systems with contactless payment tech at some of their kiosks
  • No Info (8%) - These venues did not have enough information publicly available to make a classification
DAY 2 Research Web Format

US Sports Betting Boom

You might not have been able to attend your favorite team's home game in 2020, but chances are you could bet on it. As of the end of the year, 25 states plus the District of Columbia had legalized sports betting, leading to astronomical wagering numbers. In November alone, approximately $3.5 billion was legally wagered on sports events in the US, with more than 80% of those bets being placed on a mobile device.

The Top 5 Sports Betting states in November (pending official numbers from Illinois which was 4th largest in October) according to Legal Sports Report were:

  1. New Jersey - $931 million
  2. Nevada - $609 million
  3. Pennsylvania - $492 million
  4. Indiana - $251 million
  5. Colorado - $231 million

Surprisingly, coming in the 6th spot was Tennessee, which only launched on Nov 1 and set a new record for the first month of legal wagering in a state. Bigger things are in store in 2021. Early this year, mobile sports betting should go live in Michigan and Virginia, with Maryland, Louisiana and South Dakota to launch in the months ahead. The big wildcard is New York, where sports betting is legal at a handful of upstate casinos but mobile sports betting is currently prohibited. That could change in 2021 if government passes legislation, and if it does, New York could see several billion dollars in annual handle and several hundred million in tax revenues. Connecticut and Ohio are two other states that could cross the finish line in 2021.

The Emergence of Name Image Likeness (NIL)

Later this year the NCAA is expected to allow college athletes to start earning money using their name, image and likeness (NIL). What this exactly looks like and how much money the NCAA's nearly half a million student-athletes can make is still up in the air. In addition to updated NCAA bylaws expected later this month, there are multiple federal and state bills in pending legislation, each with its different set of rules.

Regardless of which bills cross the finish line, however, there is already a declared winner, and that is the college athlete. For the first time ever, whether you play sports at Colorado or Columbia, Washington or Wheaton, you will be able to profit from your name, your image and your likeness.

Although a lot of attention has been placed on how much money the big-name football players will make, the highest upside may be for women college athletes. Although they are not as well-known as the Trevor Lawrences and Justin Fields of the NCAA landscape, many of these female athletes have large social media followings that they should be able to monetize. Would it surprise you that the Cavinder twins (Hanna and Haley) that play basketball at Fresno State have more than 2.5 million followers on TikTok and more than 50,000 subscribers on YouTube? Ka-ching!

The folks at Sports Innovation Lab (SIL) looked at the potential earnings of several college athletes across multiple sports, and then compared that to the highest salary they could make as a professional. The results are astounding. Haley Cruse, for example, a softball player at Oregon, could make an estimated $117,000 annually posting on her social media channels where she has nearly 335,000 followers across Instagram and Twitter. This is nearly 6 times what she could make in the National Pro Fastpitch League where the top salary is $20,000/year.

The chart above shows the earnings potential of other female collegiate athletes, which was compiled by SIL using earnings data provided by OpenDorse and INFLCR (as published in Axios, FiveThirtyEight and CBSSports.com). OpenDorse and INFLCR are a couple of the new companies emerging in the NIL space, along with other headliners such as the Perpetual Sports Network, a Venuetize client that will be launching a premium Content Hub in 2021.

This new and unique partnership between Venuetize and Perpetual Sports Network will leverage Venuetize's extensive experience in mobile and e-commerce with the launch of the Content Hub that will host unique athlete content within a subscriber channel. On the first day that an athlete signs with Perpetual Sports Network, the Perpetual Sports Network’s Content Studio will kick off a content plan that includes robust video storytelling produced by its team of action sports and documentary experts, long-form journalism stories that are unique to each athlete, and social-media content that will share the collegiate experience of each athlete with an audience.

The goal is to have new NIL legislation adopted before the 2021-22 academic year. And before the start of the 2021 football and women’s soccer seasons, when last year’s headliner Sarah Fuller - who made history by kicking extra points for Vanderbilt last fall - will be back on the soccer field, this time as a graduate transfer at North Texas. Sarah has approximately 245,000 social media followers, which could be worth more than $150,000 annually.

Stay tuned for more Venuetize Insights in 2021!

 

 

 

Gamification Is Coming Soon to an Arena Near You. Wanna Bet?

Contributed by Todd San Jule, Vice President of Strategy

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One of the big winners of this week’s election was the Sports Betting industry. Voters in three more states - Maryland, Louisiana and South Dakota - approved measures to legalize sports betting. That brings the total to 25 states that have legalized sports betting, an incredible number given it’s only been 2 ½ years since the United States Supreme Court overturned the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

Since PASPA was repealed in May 2018, more than $28 billion has been legally wagered on sports events in the United States, generating nearly $2 billion in revenue for sports book operators and more than $250 million in tax revenue for states (1). By the year 2025, industry experts estimate the US sports betting market will generate somewhere between $7.6bn to $8.5bn in revenue, as more states continue to come on board (2).

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Several Venuetize clients have recently dipped their toes into the sports betting waters by signing sponsorship deals with sports book operators. They include the PGA TOUR’s partnership with DraftKings, the Memphis Grizzlies inking a sponsorship deal with FanDuel, and the Detroit Red Wings tapping BetMGM as a strategic partner.

In states where mobile sports betting is not yet legal, other Venuetize clients have started bringing free to play (FTP) gaming options to their fan base. For the past two seasons, the Miami Dolphins have been operating Make The Call, a free-to-play sports prediction game within its app. 

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It’s no surprise that professional teams are using gamification to increase engagement with their fans. Estimates are that 90% of fans are using their mobile phone as a companion device while watching a sporting event - whether that’s betting on the game, playing Daily Fantasy, checking game stats or talking smack with other fans on social media platforms.

Earlier this NFL season, FanDuel launched a FTP game called Duel PlayAction, which allows fans to wager on the result of each drive or predict the outcome of the next play. Through the first 3 weeks of the season, FanDuel surpassed well over 900,000 total wagers placed on the platform, with players averaging 36 bets per game (3).

As a technology leader in the sports & entertainment space, with dozens of clients across 8 professional sports leagues, Venuetize is expanding its Platform with a set of Gamification products that teams can plug into their existing mobile application. Fans in the venue or at home will be able to download their favorite Team app and (depending on the jurisdiction) place wagers using real or virtual currency, answer questions and make predictions, all the while competing against other fans for prizes including team memorabilia and food and beverage credit at the stadium. Some lucky fans may even have a chance to take the floor, field or ice for chances to win game tickets or seat upgrades.

Stay tuned for additional updates, and if you are interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to reach out to Todd San Jule, VP of Strategy at Venuetize, at tsanjule@venuetize.com.

(1) Legal Sports Report
(2) Morgan Stanley Report and JP Morgan Report
(3) SportsHandle