James Watson: eSports live-betting has come a long way

James Watson: eSports live-betting has come a long way

In this interview with CalvinAyre.com’s Becky Liggero, James Watson of SportRadar AG tells us how live betting has developed in eSports in recent years.

Compared to other offerings, live betting in eSports is complicated. The most common problem that players encounter is the delay in the data feed. eSports live bettors usually encounter 20- to 30-second delays unlike when they are betting on ‘normal’ sports.

Despite these challenges, James Watson of SportRadar AG pointed out that operators are finally starting to see the potential of eSports as a viable revenue generator unlike in the past decade. Much of the potential of eSports betting lies in the in-play offerings.

“Live betting has come a long long way. Maybe in the last 12 to 18 months it has completely transformed. Finally we are starting to see operators wake up and notice that, hang-on if we do something a little bit different to try target those eSports fans, maybe some marketing or sponsorship, they could really take off and reap the rewards,” Watson told CalvinAyre.com. “We help activate that with the operators, so we come out to interesting market, something like Counter Strike, we can get round by round betting, really exciting, high frequency stuff that we think appeal to end users.”

Although data delays remain the primary challenge for most operators, Watson said that it is a problem that can be resolved by finding the right partner.

Watson pointed out that they partnered with the biggest organizations in the pro-gaming world like ESL and Dream Hack to broadcast tournaments and other eSports events and distribute data to their clients.

For those planning to venture into the industry, Watson advises operators to hire someone who really truly understands eSports.

“It all comes back to, these eSports fans, if you look at stereotypical vision of them, they are not just a sports punter. You can’t get them through normal marketing. They live in a different bubble.  They communicate through social media differently,” he said.  “And equally, the overlap between eSports expert and sports trader, there’s not a lot of people in that intersection. Definitely, having an internal expert is fantastic, it helps you measure your cost properly, helps you come up with those interesting markets.”

He also said that operators should be on their toes in terms of the latest innovations in the eSports betting offerings.

“It is interesting because we are starting to see it branch out towards more game titles. I think that’s a natural thing. Get to be asked a lot about FIFA. Where is FIFA in the eSports offer? Not coming just yet but we’re starting to see more titles becoming interesting,” Watson said. “Still that top tier content is dominating, so Counter Strike, League of Legends, DOTA. Between them, maybe 80 percent of the market taken up. But we are starting to see titles like Street Fighter become more interesting. Even some old games like the original Star Craft is making a comeback, so who knows really what the future holds here.”