As technology has gotten better, sports betting options have exploded. It’s not like yesteryear when you could only bet on lines and totals and a few props; live wagering and plenty of new offers have come around. Freddie Longe, SVP and Managing Director at IMG Arena, joined our Becky Liggero Fontana to talk about how through new tools, they’re bringing totally new action to sports books.
The UFC is no stranger to gambling, but getting accurate and real time data has not always been easy. IMG Arena is looking to change that. “We’ve created with the UFC a new data feed that is going to be collected octagons side so it meets the requirements of the industry in terms of speed and accuracy,” he told us. “And because its official from the UFC, it means new betting markets can be opened up as a consequence. It’s quite a subjective sport, so the fact that it comes with the UFCs official stamp is a key part of it’s future success, so that sportsbooks can create and settle markets as a consequence of knowing that what they’re being told is factually accurate based on what the UFC have said.”
IMG has been working closely with sports for a long time, but helping sports content become sports betting content is now the focus of IMG Arena. “IMG’s heritage stretches back to the 1960’s and we’ve always been a very client lead business,” he said. “People like Wimbledon, the European Tour, our Federation roster stretches to two or three hundred. And IMG Arena is the latest business within that IMG ecosystem that is looking to exploit the sports content into the sports betting arena. So our modus operandi is to really try and drive as much value on behalf of client, Federation clients, but also meet the needs of the sports betting industry.”
The UFC plays a huge part in that strategy, thanks to the demographics of their biggest fans, but golf will play a big role too. “We think things like embedding the brand of the UFC which is something that resonates very powerfully with its fanbase, I think the demographic of the UFC is absolutely perfect and tailor-made for sports betting,” he said. “It’s 18 to 44, 21 to 44 in the context of the U.S., male and just with an incredibly strong propensity to bet, so there’s a really nice neat tie up and we’re able to bridge that gap accordingly. And on the golf side, you know, it’s the only traditional sport in our view that hasn’t had the same opportunity as all other sports and based on the complexity and difficulty of getting accurate, fast, reliable data off golf courses. So we’re busy fixing that challenge as well on behalf of both our partners, the PGA tour here and the European Tour across the ocean.”
Ultimately, these new products aren’t only geared to help IMG Arena’s B2B customers, but to improve fan engagement too. “When you consider what we’re doing on golf, which is not a trivial undertaking, trying to bring a golf course to life with a mobile-first mindset, right, it’s 18 holes and therefore we have spent a huge amount of time and effort and resource to develop the golf event center with ensuring we can deliver that to our customers and they don’t have to go through the headache of trying to figure out how to do that themselves,” he said. “And that will breed fan engagement as a consequence. And the fact we’ve got integrated par-3 live streaming as part of the experience, the fact that we attach the brands of our clients to these products, it breeds trust in the consumers as well. They understand this is an official product and with it comes all the benefits of that.”