Las Vegas Sports Betting Giants Grab Hollywood Talent to Add Customers –

hHollywood has accepted that content is the primary weapon in the broadcast wars. Quietly, as legalized online sports betting has spread across the country, content has also become the weapon of choice for digital casino operators and bookmakers looking for this advantage in what used to be a costly consumer buck. And content creators, from production companies to podcasts and even established TV talent, are benefiting, The Hollywood Reporter Writes.

“It’s the casino operators’ livestream war copy,” says former Wall Street analyst Hal Vogel.

Online sports betting has been steadily expanding across the United States since the 2018 Supreme Court ruling Murphy vs. NCAA It paved the way for states to allow this practice. As every state legalized access to sports betting (which is legal in 21 states, with nine more pending and others expected to follow), gambling operators, both local digital companies like DraftKings, and legacy casino brands like MGM and Caesars, have jumped into the space. . Even media companies have entered the fray, with the launch of FoxBet in partnership with Flutter (now owner of FanDuel).

But expansion has proven costly, as each state requires the launch of a local marketing campaign. As anyone who lives in a country that has legalized sports betting in the past year or two will tell you, once TV ads, targeted digital marketing campaigns, and mailed flyers become legal, they go viral. So gaming companies turned to content as a point of differentiation. The result has been a series of deals covering podcasts, social media content like TikTok videos and Instagram pages, and even talent deals, where athletes, artists, and sports media celebrities sign up with different game companies to produce original content.

Recently, Caesars Entertainment, owner of the popular Las Vegas casino resort and Caesars Sportsbook mobile app, signed a deal with Peyton ManningOmaha Productions produces video and podcast content for its various platforms. “Caesars’ big bet is that Peyton leads his frantic audience to his gambling platform – and keeps them there, and away from the others,” he says, Peter SathiChairman of the Board of Directors of Creative Media Consulting Company. “It is all about customer acquisition and customer retention in an increasingly competitive online and offline world of gambling, gaming and cryptocurrency.”

“We believe consumers are smart, and it is much better to engage them with content and let them learn about the world we make,” said Caesars Sportsbook Chief Marketing Officer. Sharon Otterman Says. “You don’t have to keep putting pressure on them so much with this or that offer. It’s a strategic way to build a relationship with clients, and to respect both sides of the equation.”

It’s, in the words of a global financial source, a “wash, rinse, repeat” cycle. Players enter the ecosystem because of the content, play, and then survive.

If anything, Caesars’ deal with Manning and his production company is the culmination of a years-long effort by betting on companies to differentiate themselves through content. Penn National Gaming acquired a significant minority stake in Barstool Sports in early 2020, and plans to become the majority owner of the company next year. In addition to Barstool content like the original podcast, Penn has also launched a Barstool-branded sportsbook.

Pat McAfee, a popular radio broadcaster and YouTube content creator, signed a nine-figure deal with FanDuel last year to bring his show to the bookmaker’s platforms. BetMGM has made deals with the athletenow owned by New York timesand Yahoo Sports, Caesars hired former ESPN anchor Kenny Mayne in the role of content, to name a few deals.

Otterman says the company moved into content after finding that customers were tired of experiencing the “transactions” of betting apps, with users saying the space “felt more like a bank than an experience when they first entered Caesars Palace.”

Users enjoy and relate to talent and content on a different level than they do in a game or betting app, and bookmakers are more than willing to pay to secure that relationship for themselves. To date, many deals include podcasts, especially podcasts that touch on sports, where the bookmaker is the presenting sponsor (and can also sell advertising space). With sports podcasts already becoming a popular genre and betting already a recurring topic of conversation, deals have mushroomed. But deals for video content (again, usually sports-related), distributed on social platforms, YouTube or within applications and websites of betting companies, are also becoming more frequent.

ESPN’s former talent has been particularly high in demand. In 2021, Draftskings signed a multi-year deal with Meadowlark Media (co-founded by the former ESPN president). John Skipper) to sponsor and distribute a former ESPN radio host Dan Le BatardThe podcast is in what has been described as an eight-figure deal. Says COO of Meadowlark Media Bimal Kapadia.

But more than anything else, it’s about getting these consumers into their own ecosystems. “It’s really all about collecting these email addresses,” he says. Joe Favorite, a sports media consultant and assistant professor at Columbia University. Increasingly, content is becoming the most cost-effective way to achieve this result. As a high-level source in the content side of the work saysThe Hollywood Reporter“Online sports betting has reached a point where the street wants to see ways to use less money to raise awareness and increase engagement with their platforms.”

With a lot of the country on board or likely to launch legitimate online sports betting in the next year or so, local land grabs are making way for more efficient nationwide campaigns. “The rapid growth of our footprint has opened up efficiencies on a large scale that have made some national initiatives accessible and attractive, while previously they were uneconomic due to the presence of spillover to countries where we were not active,” said BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt He said at the company’s investor day on May 12.

This efficiency becomes all the more necessary as the country stares into a possible recession. Consumers are tightening their money chains, and sports bets can be an easy process to weed out. This environment can make content investments more relevant, thanks to its inherent stability. Even if people don’t bet, they are more likely to continue listening to podcasts or watching funny videos created by Manning or Maine (like Mayne’s “Betting 101” series, which uses his quirky sense of humor to introduce betting concepts to users).

“Dan’s voice, whether it’s in a bear market or a bull market, remains very relevant to his fan base,” Kapadia says of Le Batard’s loyal audience.

Deal economics also helps betting companies amortize their costs by selling other ads on owned podcasts or videos, or reselling content elsewhere if desired. “If betting companies can have their own content, licensed or shared content, they have the ability to lower it. [consumer acquisition] costs because they can then recoup them through their own advertising sales, their licensing deals, and their own partnerships,” Kapadia adds.

Another content-side source notes that the strategy has already proven itself among the major sporting events, when sports betting is slowing down, as one would expect. But consumers continue to engage with the content and come back when things improve. While economic stagnation is certainly a different beast, strategy shares the North Star.

“We don’t have the ambition to be a media company, which is not what we do,” Caesars’ Otterman says, adding that the worlds of advertising and content are increasingly converging, “and the best way you can make sure that a potential customer knows what we are standing for, and that we have an emotional connection, is to immerse ourselves in our own content.”

And just as companies like Netflix, Disney, Paramount, and NBCUniversal have found themselves in the bidding wars for top-tier comedic and dramatic talent, bookmakers are finding that authentic content from well-known names can be a ticket to consumer cash. Or at least their email address.

“Gambling, gaming, and cryptocurrency share the same opportunity — and the same dilemma,” says Csathy. “Consumers are willing to spend huge amounts of dollars, but first they need to know where to go to spend that money.”

George Salai contributed to this report.

A version of this story appeared in the June 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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