Digital Future

Unlock The Hidden Monetization Opportunity In Online Gaming

In my last blog post, I outlined how technology can help sports related stakeholders analyze data and delve deeply into what, where, and whom to engage as the target audience. Using proprietary tools, sports event organizers can create a single e-commerce platform to target ads and personalize marketing on match day. An analysis of virtual attendance demographics means that fans get localized delivery of content across the world.

In this blog post, I'm going to discuss how technology can monetize sports making nearly every game an event to remember. Virtual attendance is an enormous development, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. Virtual gaming is now one of the most watched 'sport' in the world with events globally broadcast online and drawing millions of viewers. The 2015 League of Legends Finals, which took place at different venues across Europe, boasted a purse of some $2 million. The five-week long finals drew a total of 36 million viewers with the actual final at the Benz Arena in Berlin, drawing a peak of 14 million. The 17,000-seat capacity venue was sold out in record time. Compare these numbers with the 2014 sell-out final in Seoul, which drew more than 60,000 fans. Even real sports players are getting in on the act with the Brooklyn Nets' basketball player Jeremy Lin sponsoring his own 'e-gamer' team.

How do technology companies fit into the virtual gaming world?

In the virtual gaming world, we can now do what we have accomplished with real sports: sense, analyze, engage, and monetize. We can analyze real-time and historic player statistics and data, a player's in-game performance levels in certain situations, a player's and team's history and, of course, the fans - their digital and physical engagement and locate trends related to them during the event. With this depth of data, we can deliver rich and meaningful real-time insights to fans, gamers, sponsors, and (where allowed) betting agencies, adding value and knowledge to all stakeholders.

With more than 51.8 million players in America alone, the online fantasy sports industry expected to generate 2.6 billion in entry fees in 2015 . The leading players in America Fan Duel and Draft Kings cover many sports, but most traffic comes through the NBA, MLB and NFL games. In Europe, the Premier League's official game draws 3.5 million players with millions more playing on other unofficial platforms. With such huge numbers to engage, and vast amounts of data and history from each sport, technology can help analyze and provide rich insights and trends to the fantasy sites and sponsors. Doing so would increase the appeal for the sport and draw more fans to the platform, it will also increase revenue for the platform and 'eye balls,' if you will, for the sponsors and brands.

Number crunching the monies

To give you a sense of just how transformational technology in sports can be, let's go from online gaming into the stadium for a bit.

This illustration is of a sixth-ranked Premier League team, which focused on monetizing in-stadium game highlights and replays, through virtual reality. Here is the math:

  • Number of home matches a year: 25; match day attendance: 45,000; number of unique fans a year: 337,500; number of mobile fans a match: 1 million; number of TV fans a match: 2 million; number of engaged mobile fans at a match: 100,000
  • For the physical fan during one match, there are 4,500 buyers of the VR priced at $2.50 a match for each device, which is $281,000 over the course of one season
  • For the digital fan during one match, there are 50,000 buyers of the VR priced at $2.50 a match for each device, which is $3.1 million over the course of one season

To help sports organizers uncover newer revenue streams, Infosys uses a combination of technologies to provide services inside and outside the stadium, all on a single platform; Skava for compelling digital experience, IIP (Infosys Information Platform) for rich insights on fan behavior and game data, and Ooyala, a cloud-based video platform for smart publishing, analysis and advertising. This offering is a powerful demonstration of how fan and player experiences, and monetization models are being transformed. A case in point being our engagement with the Association of Tennis Professionals World Tour as their official strategic technology and data partner.

Locating newer monetization opportunities

The above example is that of an established sport with a global audience and fan base. But in the near future, where are the niche opportunities for monetization likely to be? I foresee them in three areas: betting, online gaming, and fantasy sports. Betting is experiencing a massive growth in innovation, excitement, and is drawing more crowds than ever before. These are regular people, not stereotypical gamblers but younger and more diverse audiences who have been brought up gaming online and have now matured into online gambling.

With players and teams alike we see a massive opportunity for data mining around past and current performance, form, aversion to weather, rivals, stadium conditions, home or away, and being able to provide a richer insight into future performance in a real-time environment. Imagine your team is playing, it is half-time, it has begun to rain, and one of your stars has used up all his penalties.

We could analyze past data along these parameters and access insights into how the team has performed in such an environment before. This can provide bookies with information to adjust their odds with greater precision. Discerning fans could have a better understanding of how the team might perform in such conditions by leveraging real-time data and thus experience a more exciting and immersive event.

In a nutshell, the aim is to entertain and engage fans, and increase revenue and insights for the club and sponsors without distracting the fans with unwanted content. We can achieve monetization by providing genuine value in the right context. The transformation of the sports ecosystem is real and is happening now, and as with any game, the stakeholders with the smartest moves are the ones who will win.