Betting on growth: Stats Perform tackles the shifting expectations and behaviours of sports media in 2022

By Nancy Hensley, chief product and marketing officer, Stats Perform

The burgeoning betting industry and increasing demand for data-driven storytelling have inspired game-changing strategies at the heart of the sports media sector in 2021.

As we look ahead to 2022, there is plenty to suggest that such trends will continue to open up unprecedented engagement opportunities – as well as challenges – as a highly competitive landscape continues to evolve.

Betting on growth

Firstly, it is impossible to ignore the seismic shift in sports betting across the US. This has accelerated in 2021. As a result, it is hardly a surprise that mainstream broadcasters and platforms have increasingly embraced opportunities related to betting. You cannot miss the betting content that has emerged across almost every form of media, from broadcast graphics to tickers and segments around betting odds and lines.

Here in the US, you even see it on mainstream shows. So, the market demand for fans looking to have their viewing and betting experiences integrated is impossible to ignore.

For providers such as ourselves, this growth represents a major area of investment, and fortunately we offer both data-driven storytelling and sports data services to support this trajectory.

The US will continue to open up to regulated betting on a state-by-state basis in the New Year, and teams and leagues will continue to cash in by combining their relationships with broadcasters, publishers and sportsbooks. Content will remain the key challenge, as well as the drive to create unique stories and insights. It is all about engagement, and gamification will also continue to grow, especially in territories and states that do not offer legalized sports betting.

Demand for more

On a related note, I think that a demand for more graphics, insights and predictive content is a key trend. Research has shown that 40% of sports fans are more likely to watch a game if real time data insights are shown [Deloitte, The future of sports broadcasting, Enhancing digital fan engagement, 2019]. Again, this represents a challenge as well as an opportunity for broadcasters, as fans are looking for insights on demand, and not just reactively.

In a sense, this tallies with the steady integration of the second screen into the primary viewing experience. Everyone is in agreement that the second screen is vital for fans, particularly in terms of accessing statistical insights and amplifying the social experience around consuming sport.

However, the ongoing digitisation of sports coverage, and especially the growth of over the top (OTT) streaming consumption, will continue to disrupt the landscape for linear broadcasters.

In 2021 – and indeed since the early months of 2020 – multimedia viewing options have been propelled to a new level for sports fans. Not only has the pandemic helped to nudge fans towards web, mobile, smart TV and platforms for their sports coverage, but we have also seen the emergence of the likes of Twitch as a hub of engagement for younger viewers.

We will start to see more of that second-screen integration in OTT experiences, and the combination of sports and social media represents a key opportunity.

It will be intriguing to see how traditional broadcasters that have not yet adapted their offerings will continue to tackle this multimedia challenge in 2022. It is not just about making sure you can pull in viewers to the event they want to watch – and ensuring they can find it easily. It is also about offering different platforms for the different consumers.

It is no longer a one-size-fits-all sports broadcasting market. If they are to achieve future success, broadcasters have to segment their viewers and offer tailored experiences across a range of platforms.

Don’t forget the data

“Content is king” is a phrase that has been repeated ad infinitum in sports media over the past decade and more. However, I prefer “content is king and data is queen”, as this will absolutely be the case in 2022 and beyond.

The most important weapon is to get the right content, statistics and predictions at the right time, on the right screen. I use the word “weapon” deliberately as everyone has access to these various tools, and it is going to get really competitive very quickly in this space.

In order to compete properly, sports media companies cannot just react to key moments; they have to be able to predict them as well. We are focused on not just enabling data-driven storytelling, but integrating artificial intelligence (AI)-infused tools with live human help, because – let’s face it – we still need a depth of expertise to complement the technology.

Therefore, more predictive statistics and insights, and betting content and insights, will continue to grow as a trend in 2022. Basic stats are no longer enough for most fans as they are looking for what is next, unique angles, or what some refer to as “next-gen stats”.

AI-driven predictions

Viewers want greater depth in the data and more predictions, and we have seen more broadcasters embrace some of our most advanced AI models as a part of their storytelling over the past year.

The market demand for sports predictions that are calculated through AI is only likely to grow. You only have to look at how advanced metrics like “XG” have become part of the conversation for the average football viewer over recent times.

In 2022 and beyond, we will see the continued evolution of those types of elements, with more AI and predictive models incorporated into broadcasts. To support this, overlaying performance insights can transform the viewing experience, and one of the most exciting advancements will be in leveraging broadcast video to create tracking data on a live basis.

For sports media companies – and their providers, such as us – the focus in 2022 will continue to be on user engagement across all of these opportunities. As we look ahead to a big year of sport, the drive to keep viewers immersed in the experience will be greater than ever.


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