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The evolution of esports tournaments: Carving out new revenue channels in a maturing market

| By Alice Soule | Reading Time: 5 minutes
The esports industry is flourishing, with global esports betting growing from $9.75bn in 2021 to a potential $35.6bn by 2031. However, with much of this revenue coming from secondary sources like sponsorships, Marek Suchar, Oddin’s head of partnerships and co-founder, believes operators must cherish the new opportunities within this maturing market. Here, he explains why having the right partner on the journey is critical for the operator to enter, expand and capitalise on future growth of esports betting.

What issues are you seeing arise from the maturing esports industry? How are operators having to adapt to meet evolving demands and carve out new revenue channels?

“The esports industry is growing fast, some of the streams from major esports tournaments are now able to beat traditional sporting events. However, the revenue part of the esport business is yet to mature. The primary sources of revenue of esports tournament organisers traditionally came from media rights, sponsorships, ticket sales and merchandising.

“A few years ago, the discussion around in-game esports data was virtually non-existent, but as esports continues to gain in popularity, the industry becomes increasingly attractive to bookmakers. As a result, data is now a crucial component of a sustainable business model. That’s why Oddin has become a data and integrity partner for several major tournament organisers, such as PGL and Fissure     .

“We believe in delivering the final product on top of the data. For operators, the key challenge would be understanding the new generation of esport bettors, creating tailor made campaigns and engaging touch points.”

Esports betting is becoming an increasingly global market. What challenges are you seeing for operators targeting a global audience with their esports tournaments. How does Oddin support partners in adapting to each market?

“Indeed. We can see this in our client portfolio and also our team with both spanning literally from all continents except Antarctica. Our products work with 35 languages and several hundred currencies including crypto.

“By offering our product in an easily-adjustable form, and solving many of the steps needed to deliver a top-level product that our clients integrate or embed into their infrastructure, we allow operators to focus on what they do best.

“We are also here to support them in any way they might require be that through tailor-made solutions, high-quality traffic, or in an advisory capacity.”

Are you seeing any macro trends in the esports market in general?

“Esports gained a lot of traction during Covid as all the sports were shut down. Many esports assets enjoyed high valuations as Covid was here to stay, but fortunately the opposite happened and moonshot trajectories faced the hard reality.

“Fortunately to savvy businesses, the era of easy money is gone and everybody needs to look for profitability. Do not get me wrong, esports is here to stay and flourish, it would just go through consolidation when it comes to individual players on the market.”

Oddin sets out to engage a new generation, drive volume 24/7 and improve profitability. What issues do operators face in appealing to the new generation of esports players, and how does Oddin help partners overcome these concerns and drive new revenue channels?

“These questions sound like a set of issues, but we rather look at them as a set of exciting opportunities. Engaging the new generation of bettors means that you can work with a completely new set of prospects. With the right product, this is a chance to talk to a highly engaged audience that is young, passionate and loyal to their favourite titles.

“True, this audience loves live content, but our fast-paced betting content, e-Sims and adjusted game formats such as Counter Strike 1:1 are here to keep the audience engaged and entertained. Continuously improving live streaming is one of the tools we are using to stay on the top of the game, as well as coming up with exciting new markets.”

How important is betting on live tournaments to increasing revenue? How does Oddin ensure its partners have access to the fastest live streams and odds data?

“Offering live coverage and live bets is truly important. In the esports data segment of our services and products, we offer not only the raw data and the data API, but also an ultimate trading tool into which our team traders have embedded years of their experience. It has a UIX similar to renowned Oddin widgets, yet tailor made for trading specifically. It was literally created by traders, for traders.

“In streaming, we have recently entered into a multi-year strategic partnership to offer audiovisual streaming of Oddin’s exclusive esports content to Sportradar’s betting operator clients around the world. Sportradar’s global network of 900+ betting operator clients will benefit from the opportunity to offer greater volume and a wider variety of live streamed esports events to their customers.

“Oddin holds the official rights to high-profile competitions which Sportradar will distribute to sportsbooks through the company’s integrated streaming product, providing access to prominent competitions globally and enabling operators to offer exciting new content to their customers.”

Why do you believe operators need companies such as yourself to be successful within esports betting?

“There are a couple of reasons for that. Infrastructure, trading expertise and esports specifics. Building a world class esports betting product means building the entire infrastructure from processing the data, building your own models and having the trading expertise as each game behaves differently.

“Given the phenomenon of patches happening every couple of months in esports, by which new heroes and mechanics are being added, their strengths increased or decreased, and you need to constantly react to that, the models need to be constantly recalibrated, sunsetted or created. Models created a year ago are already obsolete for many of the games.

“The vast majority of bookmakers prefer to work with a reliable partner that covers all their needs: for the ones with their own risk team, this can be odds feed, for the ones less familiar with esports as such this is odds feed with risk management.

“Some of the bookmakers prefer to go-to-market ASAP with iframe, which covers the entire UI/UX, streaming, widgets and risk management. There are very few that would consider going through the process of creating their own odds.”

How do you see your position on the market against competitors?

“Certainly, we have competitors on the market. But we consider them operating in a particular area, there is nobody else providing one-stop shop services starting with lower-value products such as data, stream and widgets, followed by odds feed and with a cherry on top in the form of sophisticated risk management, iframe and marketing guidance. We consider ourselves rather advisors to our partners on their esports betting journey than just a mere supplier. 

“We have so far not lost a single client. Based on the feedback we have received, that is thanks to the combination of high-quality product, top notch communication, constant innovation and stable margin.

“Given that position, clientele, and quality of products, we definitely have a target on our back.”

How does Oddin anticipate esports tournaments evolving in the future? With these potential changes in mind, in what ways will you support operator partners to continue to drive revenue?

“We strongly believe in esports as a form of entertainment. The streaming quality, that means the level of editing, directing, hosting, commenting, will reach the level of sports. Then, together with sports, the technology will allow the viewers to indulge into the experience, making it immersive and engaging.

“Augmented and virtual reality, gamification of streaming, all this is a future that is almost here. We make sure we are always on the top of technological advancements combined with the esport expertise we have for “the human touch”.

Esports is becoming a truly global sport, with the creation of an esports Olympic Games now standing alongside popular tournaments and events. Despite this evolution, Venclik feels there still lies a disparity between engagement and the channels from which esports operators gain most of their revenue. A gap he believes that must be bridged in order to achieve a sustainable business strategy.

But esports continues to grow in popularity and leading operators are recognising its potential for boosting both player engagement and profitability. Working with an esports expert, like Oddin who creates data inspired esports solutions that are tailored to individual need, ensures an immersive and customised user experience for players and ultimately success for operator partners.

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