09/14/20: The CEO of theScore breaks down the companies innovations in sports gambling

 

Medias First Morning Read
Monday September 14, 2020

On a weekend that saw action from every single major sporting league, sportsbooks were anticipating one of the biggest weekends of the year, and only solidifying the continued integration of legal sports wagering with mainstay culture around the country as an ever-growing list of states continue to grant licenses to players within the industry. One such platform, theScore Bet, is taking its own approach to growing roots into the sports gaming scene, including the recent addition of Colorado. theScore Bet will continue its multi-state rollout with its upcoming launch in Indiana under its multi-state market access framework agreement with Penn National Gaming, pending regulatory approval. Cynopsis Sports asked John Levy, founder and CEO of theScore, about the company’s strategy in the space.

Levy on lessons learned after launching in New Jersey: It’s been a little over a year since we launched theScore Bet in New Jersey and made history as the first media company to operate a sportsbook in the US. We’re constantly innovating and listening to our audience on how we can better serve their media and betting needs through our platforms, and so are learning things daily. Because we have our own in-house product development and analytics teams, we can be very data-focused and nimble in ensuring we are continually surpassing user expectations. A large part of our gaming business is how we have integrated theScore Bet with our media app, and we are continually innovating around this and are looking forward to unveiling more of these enhancements into the fall, largely driven off of behaviors we’ve seen exhibited by our users to date.
Overall, we’ve been thrilled with the response from fans who have gravitated to our product and differentiated approach to sports betting.

On a stacked Fall schedule: Fall is set up to be an epic sports season with so many major events converging. We also just launched our betting product in Colorado and are launching soon in Indiana (pending regulatory approval), two new great sports states and fan bases with access to theScore Bet. We’ve already seen a dramatic increase in betting activity leading up to the NFL season and that follows a period in which fans were eager to bet on the major professional leagues coming out of the sports hiatus. During the spring shut down we were able to retain nearly 75% of our media app audience, which is evidence of our loyal user base and the insatiable appetite of sports fans. With that as an amazing foundation, we’re excited to layer on top the natural lift in interest and engagement that comes along with the fall football season.

On what differentiates theScore Bet from its competitors: theScore app is the second most popular sports app in North America, so we have a vast and highly engaged user base. When we decided to become a sportsbook, we carved out a differentiated approach which uniquely integrates media and betting. We treat betting as part of the overall fan experience and make it seamless for fans to flow between our media and betting apps when researching or following a game and placing their bets. It’s simple and easy, and powered by a suite of innovative integrations that link both platforms together resulting in a highly intuitive betting product.
We could have become a super affiliate and sent our audience to other sportsbook operators, but that always felt like leaving something on the table. We know how to deliver fantastic mobile sports experiences that attract large audiences – that’s what made us successful in media, and it was too compelling to not pursue the same for sports betting. Combining the two, as we uniquely can by operating both, allows for us to deliver a differentiated, holistic betting experience, to truly bring something different, and more fan-centric to market.

On biggest challenges now: We are well positioned in this rapidly growing industry as we have market access to about 30 percent of the country and just secured market access in New Jersey for an online casino, further expanding our reach and deepening our portfolio of assets. There is a large runway for growth in this highly competitive industry, but there is also an arms race. The sportsbooks that innovate and offer the best product and experience will rise to the top as we don’t see the quick land grab as a sustainable, long-term or ultimately cost-efficient model. It’s been a successful first year and we think the best is yet to come as we further theScore Bet brand and roll out to more states across the country.

On the evolution of the industry: As this industry evolves, sports betting will become a more natural part of how we consume sports across all platforms and integrate into every touch point of fandom, rather than a separate, isolated transactional behavior. New and innovative product solutions will help satisfy that demand and we’ll be firmly at the forefront of technological innovation and first movers in delivering elite mobile betting experiences to fans as we rapidly iterate and continue to better understand their preferences. We’re also hopeful for a world in which Canada further opens up for legalized sports betting, which will be an enormous opportunity for theScore as we’re by far the leader in mobile sports media there.

PROGRAMMING

Coming in just under the wire for week one of the NFL season, NFL Media and DISH Network Corporation announced that the two parties have reached a new carriage agreement for NFL Network and NFL RedZone. Distribution of both networks has been restored on DISH TV and SLING TV. “We join millions of NFL fans who are thrilled to see NFL Network and NFL RedZone back on DISH and SLING TV in time for the 2020 NFL season,” said Hans Schroeder, EVP and chief operating officer of NFL Media. “Our goal is to provide NFL fans everywhere the opportunity to view award-winning coverage of America’s favorite sport and DISH and SLING TV are important partners in that mission.”

Overseas, the NFL also announced an extension with ELEVEN in Belgium, Luxembourg and Portugal. ELEVEN’s new deal will give football fans the chance to enjoy three NFL games every week of the season with coverage that will also include the playoffs and the Super Bowl.

Tonight sees ESPN’s Monday Night Football showcase a new pre-kickoff hype song for the 2020 NFL season, in “Rip It Up (Feat. Butcher Brown”) by Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame artist Little Richard. The audio will be combined with NFL and specific team highlights completing the opening for the franchise’s 50th anniversary season. The modernized single from the 1956 No. 1 hit will continue to prominently feature Little Richard and adds Virginia-based band Butcher Brown who has recreated the instrumentals while also adding background vocals. “We’re truly excited to have teamed up with ESPN for this project, and are honored to have had the opportunity to work with the music of the King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Little Richard,” said Butcher Brown. “We are all big NFL fans so we are eagerly anticipating Monday Night Football’s return, particularly for when our Eagles and Ravens are showcased this season on the franchise.”

Up against competition from multiple leagues, and sporting the largest fourth-quarter deficit (24 points) in an NFL Kickoff Game in seven years, the Chiefs’ win over the Houston Texans in the opening game of the NFL season on Thursday night took a dip, but still averaged a preliminary Total Audience Delivery of 20.3 million viewers across NBC TV, NBC Sports Digital, and NFL Digital platforms – making it the most-watched sporting event since Super Bowl LIV in February, according to Fast National data from Nielsen, and digital data from Adobe Analytics. The Average Minute Audience for the evening’s live stream via NBC Sports digital platforms, NFL Digital platforms, Chiefs and Texans mobile properties, and Verizon Media mobile properties was 970,000 viewers, marking the highest ever for an NBC NFL game, excluding Super Bowls – and up 55% from last year’s NFL Kickoff Game (627,000).

Networks will be tapping the collection from NFL Films this season, as multichannel surround audio recordings from every NFL stadium for the past four years was used on Sunday. ESPN reports that over the past few months, NFL Films’ sound mixers spent “hundreds of hours harvesting and cataloging sounds from each of the NFL’s stadiums that they had been saving in recent years for the league’s broadcast partners.” Each broadcast then had the option to create a unique sound palette for each team in that game.

On the MMA front, Bellator MMA, a which is owned by ViacomCBS, and CBS Sports Network entered into a new partnership that will see the organization’s live events featured on the 24-hour home of CBS Sports beginning this fall. CBS Sports Network will televise Bellator events, both domestic and international, live in all U.S. markets, while preliminary matchups will stream on CBSSports.com and Bellator MMA’s YouTube channel. To kick off the new partnership, CBS Sports Network will air Bellator events live from Europe, including Bellator 247 on Oct. 1. “I am thrilled that Bellator live events will be coming to CBS Sports Network beginning on Oct. 1, as well as the unique opportunities the partnership creates across all CBS Sports platforms,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “CBS Sports is synonymous with iconic sports broadcasting and it is incredible to now have Bellator MMA included in that family. I would like to thank Paramount Network, formerly Spike TV, for the years of support that helped build Bellator into the organization that it is today, and this news marks yet another exciting relationship between two ViacomCBS properties. I look forward to bringing the biggest fights, featuring the top athletes in the world, live to CBS Sports Network and introducing Bellator to an entirely new audience this fall.”

Meanwhile, NFL star Marshawn Lynch is on deck to offer color commentary for Karate Combat’s Season 2 debut n Sept. 27, joining fight sports hall-of-famer Bas Rutten. They’ll lead color commentary for the first professional, mainstream, full contact karate league. Lynch will appear in the first three episodes of the 12-week season, which runs on Sunday nights at karate.com starting on Sept. 27 and on Thursdays in the U.S. and Canada at 10p here on beIN SPORTS.

ESPN detailed plans to expand its sports betting footprint with toady’s debut of Bet, a new half-hour program that will stream three nights per week on digital platforms. In addition, the company is launching a YouTube channel today that is dedicated to sports betting content. Bet, co-hosted by Joe Fortenbaugh and Tyler Fulghum, will originate from ESPN’s just-opened studio at The LINQ Hotel + Experience here in Las Vegas.and will be available for live and on-demand viewing on the ESPN App and on ESPN’s social media feeds on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Google locked in a multiyear, multifaceted partnership with SoFi Stadium as the $5 billion venue opens for its first season with Google Cloud powering the venue, along with Hollywood Park’s digital innovation experience, in a multi-year deal. In addition, the Google-owned YouTube will become the official video streaming sponsor of the Rams, Chargers, SoFi Stadium, and Hollywood Park. “Google is a world-class company, leading the way in technology,” said Jason Gannon, managing director, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park. “Their innovation and services are a critical component to deliver Stan Kroenke’s vision to create the ultimate sports and entertainment destination, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park.”

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

Tennis Channel and OUTFRONT Media are teaming up to bring tennis scores and highlights to New York City so residents will be able to see tournament updates and highlights as part of ‘Moments by OUTFRONT’, a new content platform delivering curated content to consumers on-the-go. Content will be on display throughout OUTFRONT’s NYC Liveboard network in the subways, in addition to street level and roadside digital units throughout the City. Both partners plan to post live scores and highlights at other major tournaments during the year.

ESPORTS

Overwatch League has its final four in place, with San Francisco, Philadelphia, Shanghai and Seoul set to face off for the crown. The 2020 Overwatch League Grand Finals will begin on Oct. 8 in China. The 2020 champion will take home a $1.5 million prize and the championship trophy. The runner-up gets $750,000, with $450,000 for third place and $350,000 for fourth place.

Riot Games scored a 70% viewership uptick for Sunday’s championship match at the League of Legends European Championship Summer Split playoffs as G2 Esports’ win over Fnatic delivered an average minute audience of 819,400, up 70% over the 2019 summer finals. The total hours watched across the full Summer Split reached 40 million, per Reuters, for a year-over-year increase of 85%.

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On this Day
1987: Cal Ripken’s streak of 8,243 consecutive innings is broken.

IN THE KNOW
Which NBA player was known as “The Hick from French Lick”? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
In the movie Animal House, what kind of ball knocked Neidermeyer off his horse? Answer: A golf ball. Kudos: Tori Gallarello-Alcock-Little Roosters, Inc./NY; John Morgan-SpotX/NY; Daniel Laub-Premion/NY; Barry Katz-NEP Group/NY; Art Salisch-Nielsen/NJ; Roger Furman-Sports Marketing Communications/Greentown; Matt Laramee-Southern New Hampshire University/Manchester; Matt Sautter-WideOrbit/Harrisburg; John Kukla-KDFW/KDFI/Dallas-Fort Worth; Creed Heilskov-ImOn Communications/Cedar Rapids; Dory Petsrillo-CoxReps/Dallas; Kyle Krebs-Intersection/Dallas; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Lorrie Shilling/El Segundo; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica

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