Australian online sports betting operator Sportsbet has signed on as the new sponsor of broadcaster Seven West Media‘s Australian Football League television coverage.
On Wednesday, the Australian Financial Review reported that Sportsbet, a division of UK betting powerhouse Paddy Power Betfair, had reached a deal with Seven to sponsor the broadcaster’s coverage of the 2017 AFL season.
Sportsbet’s deal, reportedly worth several million dollars, came despite the AFL having an exclusive wagering partnership with CrownBet, the online wagering arm of Aussie casino operator Crown Resorts. That deal gave CrownBet right of first refusal on AFL broadcast rights until 2020 but CrownBet opted out, creating a void that Sportsbet was only too happy to fill.
CrownBet CEO Matthew Tripp told the AFR that the company had gotten good mileage out of its previous AFL adverts on Seven channels but was now focusing its AFL marketing on Foxtel’s Fox Footy channel, which has “the demographics we are more interested in, which is the more hardcore punter.”
This jockeying between the two bookmakers is nothing new. Last May, Sportsbet extended its official wagering partnership with the National Rugby League until 2020. CrownBet had campaigned hard to snatch the NRL deal away from Sportsbet, vowing to beat any rival offer, but couldn’t convince the NRL to stray.
Sportsbet routinely tops Australian betting operator brand recognition charts but the company is reportedly growing more aware of CrownBet nipping at its heels, particularly in the state of Victoria.
CrownBet spent $80m on marketing in its most recent fiscal year and Tripp insisted that CrownBet would continue to market its brand aggressively in 2017. However, Tripp admitted that the company was looking to reduce its overhead, which could include renegotiating other broadcast sponsorships.
CrownBet’s parent company has been making efforts to refocus its business strategy, including reducing its stake in the Melco Crown Entertainment joint venture and abandoning its international expansion plans. Crown’s new chairman, John Alexander, said earlier this month that a key plank of the company’s focus going forward would be to “continue building our wagering and online businesses.”