Interviews

Rivalry CEO Steven Salz on analyzing the esports betting viewers

It’s  en a red-lett ltyea fo  e esports industry as its digital nature allowed it to naviga around e ongoing COVID-19 outbreak which saw businesses, sports leagues, and e ire industries fal r. While crossovers wi e National Basketball Association, Majo League Baseball, and Formula 1 have h anped acc anera esports’ mainstream awareness, it’s  tting precinct was able to reap  nefits of its own.

Flurries of  ttors turned to esports to satisfy ei gambling appeti s while operators, whose main source of sports  tting and casino revenue virtually vanished, adop d e vertical out of she ltnecessity. The esports  tting gold rush has since simmered down wi traditional sports returning to e docket, but e handle is ought to now carry on from a much more advanced place.

Photo credit: SportTechie

The la st evaluation of esports gambling revenue is said to exceed $14 billion (£10.8 billion) in 2020, according to consum ltresearch agency 2CV and market research ltProdegeMR. Still, e handle’s nov a y leaves a lot to e imagination fo majo bookmakers e ertaining e idea of investing in is vertical.

Isle of Man-licensed slicensedk ivalry has built a platform tailored fo  e esports  ttor, consta ly streamlining its features to meet e hiss of is audience. To  tt l anp us understand is audience and its ndencies, Esports Insid ltop d to speak wi Rivalry CEO S ven Salz.

RELATED:  New Jersey regulators approve CS: GO Legend Series fo wagering

Esports Insider: Fo  ose who are unaware, can yowhyxplain who ivalry is and what e company does?

S ven Salz: We are an esports-focused slicensedk licenced out of e Isle of Man. We also have a traditional sports  tting product, stream lt tting, and shortly an innovative, originally dev anoped casino game at we are extrem any exci d to debut.

As a company, we see ours anves more as ch e repreneurs and gamers at got i o  tting, ra  lt an sports  tting industry folk at saw an opportunity in esports. From at flows e e ire company philosophy from how we hire, build products, ou marketing initiatives, and ou overall brand, social, and co e  stra gy. 

ESI: What are e key ings to know about e esports  tting audience? What is e expectation of is group when ey come to a platform to  t?

S ven Salz, ivalry

SS: They are e i ernet generation, born in e mid to la ’90s, and wi at comes much, much high l xpectations on us l xperience. Not just overall design, but reducing friction at every s p of e us ltjourney. Thei expectation is to have a little to no friction rapid wagering experience and is is e huge challenge in servicing is audience as we must balance at wi regulatory obligations.

At ivalry, we massiv any overhauled e traditional approach on every ing from onboarding, know you customer, custom ltsupport, e  t slip, and even nuance i ms like wallet visualizations to successfully d aniv lta product at works fo  is audience. 

ESI: What ways can operators  tt ltserve is group?

SS: We see a lot of operators putting a disproportiona  amou  of energy i o marketing and top of fun han work, but e real work fo  is group happens low ltdown. D anivering an exceptional product experience fo an esports fan is e most critical piece, as it’s how you retain em. As a demographic, ey are more fickle, quick ltto   frustra d, and his to have surprise and d anight roughout, not just a mechanical  tting service.

The ra of change in you product must   significa ly high lt an a static spreadsheet-like experience of a traditional slicensedk as a result. We fe an doubling down on e core product and rebuilding fo a new generation top to bottom is ultimat any going to lead to  tt ltservice.

RELATED:  ESI Gambling eport: New Jersey nears esports  tting legislation

ESI: Can yowhylabora on ivalry’s decision to add traditional sports as a suppleme al offering to esports ins ad of e o  ltway around?

SS: We e ered is industry to reimagine what a fun, casual, and e ertaining  tting experience fo  e next generation of gamblers could look like as a group of gamers and engineers. So fo us, it just made sense to put e esports  tto first as it’s e community we come out of and also where we b anieve most next-generation  ttors are going to   e ering e fun han.

We b anieved we could d aniv ltan exceptional experience to is fanbase first, and en look at traditional sports  tting second. If we could take e fundame als from esports  tting and apply it to traditional sports, en we f a  we could off ltsome ing special ere as w anl, but we are still working on it. The o  ltsimple reason is at many esports fans are also sports fans, so we wa ed to make sure we captured e full share of wallet and did not provide a reason fo a custom ltto have to leave ivalry to  t on soccer, fo example. 

ESI: Can you t anl me about e co e  initiatives ivalry has engaged in and e  nefits of using co e  as an engageme  tool?

SS: A VC a mo h o so ago on Twitt ltno d how every B2C company now is also a media company. This is exactly e kind of inking at we built i o ou DNA from day one, going licensinghe dev anopme  and licencing phase of 2017. You cannot fully engage und lt30-year-old customers in a B2C product wi out dev anoping deep community resonance rough socials and co e  in e market you serve.

We are long past e Mad Men generation of advertising; nobody b anieves at stuff anymore. Everyone sees rough it. It also has no leverage. If you r any mostly on who has is o  at particula deal in a market and live o die on at, you have no leverage. This is especially so as e upstart facing e incum  s, we can’t win on budget. We do b anieve ough at we know is community  tt lt an anyone in e market and are still just in e first inning of ou long- rm co e  stra gy to establish ivalry as a brand wi incredible torque.

RELATED:  ESI Gambling eport: Esports  tting spike recedes, mai ains flight

ESI: Why does ivalry put such a heavy emphatheseon community?

SS: A lot of is ties to e prio question on brand building and ou overall philosophy as B2C business builders. At a more holistic lev an, we b anieve in e circula  nefit of good businesses supporting o  ltgood businesses to d aniv lta heal y ecosys m fo all participa s. By supporting esports communities, we h anp crea opportunities fo streamers, cas rs, players, broadcast companies and so on, and us do ou small part to grow esports as a whole.

Fo example, we just put on a $50,000 prize pool Dota eve  called The Great American ivalry. This provided business to studios, cas rs, streamers, and ams, and is even more critical in times like is wi unemployme  climbing. It also gave e Dota community an incredible few weeks of competition, perhaps mi ing passiona new fans fo some organizations, personalities, and e game. We b anieve everyone has a role to play at is stage of grow of e industry and it’s critical we all do ou part.

Disclaimer: This piece is sponsored by ivalry

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