Reuben Thomas, Commercial Director at Abelson Info, shines a spotlight on the Saudi Pro League as he asks how broadcast rights, in-depth data and player engagement go hand in hand when it comes to emerging competitions.
Cristiano Ronaldo got the ball rolling, then it was Karim Benzema, and then followed an avalanche of top footballing names from across the big European leagues, too enticing to turn down has been the allure of the bumper contracts to what is surely the most ambitious league in world football.
At first glance these big stars seemed to have dropped off the face of the footballing world since their move to Saudi. And up until recently, you wouldn’t have been too far wrong given the lack of coverage of the games across international audiences.
But at the time of writing, the Saudi Pro League has announced a landmark media rights agreement with DAZN, the deal will provide live matches to fans across Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, and the UK. Other substantial deals have been agreed with the likes of Canal+ in France and La7 in Italy and Fox Sports stateside. IMG were brought in to broker these global distribution deals for the upcoming 23/24 season with over 130 territories now all set to be able to enjoy live action from the league.
The huge outlays on big footballing stars certainly hasn’t been the only investment that the Saudi government has made into sport, just ask Golf or Boxing! Having spared no expense in trying to diversify the country’s economy and promoting interests abroad, the Kingdom’s key worry when it comes to sport has become apparent; exposure.
For fans of the sport and these high profile footballing stars, the new agreement with broadcasters such as DAZN is great news as it brings the action of Saudi Football straight to their TV sets. But for sportsbooks, what are the implications? Will the additional exposure translate into increased betting activity in markets? Reuben Thomas, Commercial Director at Abelson Info is confident it will.
Abelson Info are specialists in the odds, data and content solutions space, providing many of the world’s largest bookmakers and media companies with a range of products and services including its Televised and Streamed Sports. This TSS feed delivers global listings of live sport on TV, stream and digital platforms linked directly to the customers’ markets.
Put simply, TSS can be used by bookmakers to pinpoint where bettors can access live coverage of different sports and leagues across the world. This, Thomas believes, will open up the doors for bookmakers to engage new player bases.
Thomas explained: “This Saudi TV deal has been huge for football fans across the world. When we heard the news of the broadcasting agreements for the league we were quick to react by sending details of all the channels set to deliver this new exciting offer.
Our dedicated team gathers information from different markets across the world to establish a complete schedule of live TV broadcasts and streaming coverage. We cover over 1100 channels and 10 streaming providers, spanning 37 countries around the world – a number that continues to grow.
We deliver the details of the live coverage to our partners based on their local preferences, and given the big name footballers making the move to the Saudi Pro League, we have seen a keen interest from our customers to pick up these broadcasts. We envisage operators to promote markets of this new highlighted competition as they use our listings to help promote the action and engage in-play punters.”
Thomas was right, there have been a number of sportsbook operators who have already begun to expand their coverage of the Saudi Pro League. He has seen an increase in demand for player data leading to enhanced stats betting markets for the league.
Abelson Odds, the pricing division of Abelson Info, recently added coverage from the league to its Goalscorer Pricing and Settlement Service (GPS) and immediately sold it to the majority of clients,; the demand is high. There has also been multiple enquiries for Saudi coverage for Abelson’s Player Incident Pricing & Settlement offering (PIPS), designed in partnership with sports intelligence firm, Twenty First Group. This will soon be rolled out for selected Saudi Pro League fixtures.
The Commercial Director continued: “Since we launched our GPS service back in 2013, we have been the industry’s leading provider of football player related betting markets for both pre-match and now in-play. But we have been aware that there is a growing demand for a much broader range of player-related markets above the traditional goalscorer pricing. With new data sets available there’s unbounded new opportunities to provide the sector with player stats bets, which is where the PIPS product was born.
“From conversations with our established partners, we’ve found that bettors are demanding more and more data as they assess each individual player’s abilitiescharacteristics. Bettors feel they know the footballers’ characteristics. Markets for shots and shots on target are always popular and Abelson also offers pricing for assists, fouls, passes, tackles, offsides and saves. The general shift from teams to specific player focus and rise of the betbuilder and fantasy products have only sped up the evolution of our products.”
“Player data is becoming increasingly available to watching football audiences, across broadcast and media, including social channels. With advances in player engagement and streaming content, players will become increasingly educated and engaged with this data, and subsequently bet offerings.”
The Saudi Pro League hasn’t been the only instance in which Abelson Odds has had to react quickly to change.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a number of markets, particularly in Latin America, open up their doors to a regulated gambling framework. And with the continent hooked on football, it’s no surprise that demand for Abelson’s GPS service has been at an all-time high.
Thomas continued: “New markets opening up in Latin America has meant new opportunities. Abelson has leveraged our extensive coverage within the region to appeal to new platforms and operators. In the last two years we have expanded our Latam coverage a lot, we provide pricing from Brazil’s top two divisions and the state competitions, we also cover the top leagues from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Overall, we now cover 35 countries and over 140 competitions.
Back to the Saudi Pro League and Neymar is the latest huge name to roll into town, the Seleção superstar has a loyal Brazilian fan base not to mention 200 million instagram followers, there will be demand to watch him play whatever league he plays in. This is where TSS can help.
As it stands, Abelson has seen interest from both new and existing customers when it comes to its TSS service. And for Thomas, the role out of this product acts as the perfect complement to market launches for bookmakers.
He explained that bet stimulation products such as TSS, combined with Abelson’s GPS and PIPS odds feeds services, are cost-effective and help to create a sense of familiarity for customers in their region.
Abelson will continue to monitor upcoming changes in media rights and gambling regulation to be prepared for new demand in new regions. Bringing bettors the information they need to know where to watch their favourite players, and then a host of market opportunities to bet on them!