- Sports streaming provider fuboTV is planning to launch a branded sportsbook by the end of 2021.
- They are in the process of acquiring sports betting and interactive gaming company Vigtory.
- Market access is already in place for Iowa with more states in the pipeline.
Sports streaming network fuboTV is getting into the bookmaking business. They plan to launch a branded sportsbook by the end of 2021 leveraging technology from interactive gaming company Vigtory. On Tuesday, fuboTV announced that they had executed a binding letter of intent to purchase Vigtory with the deal expected to close in Q1 of 2021.
Here’s the backstory on Vigtory from the fuboTV press release announcing the deal:
Vigtory was founded in 2019 by Sam Rattner and backed by SeventySix Capital. Rattner is a digital sports entrepreneur who is noted for developing and integrating sports betting content and technology with robust consumer experiences. Rattner previously founded Engine Sports, a back-testing engine allowing retail sports bettors the ability to build algorithmic betting strategies within an interactive experience. Scott Butera, who was the president of interactive gaming at MGM Resorts International and was instrumental in launching BetMGM, joined Vigtory as Rattner’s co-CEO in 2020. Prior to MGM, Butera was commissioner of the Arena Football League and held C-suite leadership positions at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Tropicana Entertainment, Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino and Trump Entertainment, among other gaming businesses.
Under the proposed acquisition, both Butera and Rattner will join fuboTV’s gaming division as president and COO, respectively.
The Vigtory deal allows fuboTV to assume an existing market access deal for the state of Iowa through Casino Queen and other market access arrangements the company has ‘in the pipeline’. The press release was vague about specifics of these other than noting that they’re ‘in the eastern part of the United States’.
The press release detailed more information about fuboTV’s sports betting plans:
Additionally, fuboTV announced today more details of its online wagering strategy, further positioning itself to enter what Zion Market Research estimates will become a $155 billion industry by 2024. Through its December 2020 acquisition of Balto Sports and its content automation software, fuboTV intends to launch a free to play gaming experience this summer. Free to play gaming, which will be available to all consumers whether or not they are fuboTV subscribers, will first launch in a standalone app and later be integrated directly into the fuboTV user experience. By leveraging the Vigtory and Balto acquisitions, fuboTV intends to launch a sportsbook app where consumers can see current betting lines, place a variety of wagers, cash in their winnings and much more across sports they love. Finally, the company expects to integrate the sportsbook into fuboTV’s live TV streaming platform for a seamless viewing and wagering experience.
David Gandler, co-founder and CEO, fuboTV dropped a healthy dose of buzzwords to explain how the sportsbook and streaming network will create synergy to help the company scale:
“We believe online sports wagering is a highly complementary business to our sports-first live TV streaming platform. We don’t see wagering as simply an add-on product to fuboTV. Instead, we believe there is a real flywheel opportunity with streaming video content and interactivity. Our free to play gaming experience, which will be available to all consumers, will build further scale to fuboTV, essentially acting as another lead generator for driving subscribers to our streaming video platform and, ultimately, our sportsbook. We not only expect sports wagering to become a new line of business and source of revenue, but we also expect that it will increase user engagement on fuboTV resulting in higher ad monetization, better subscriber retention and reduced subscriber acquisition costs.”
“The proposed acquisition of Vigtory will give fuboTV the technology to build a consumer-driven sports betting product and launch it before the end of this year. It will also help us solve two hurdles that challenge other media companies who want to enter the wagering market. First, Sam and Scott have years of experience navigating the complex gaming regulatory environment and, in fact, already have a first market access agreement completed. Second, fuboTV can leverage its own first party user behavior data to understand our consumers’ viewing preferences, and when and how to prompt them to consider placing bets. Uniquely, fuboTV will be a media company and sportsbook all-in-one.”
Not really a bad business model. In many ways, it’s similar to what Penn National is doing with Barstool Sports only instead of partnering with an established sportsbook fuboTV is going to launch their own. The Vigtory (clever name, BTW) principles are also pleased to join up with fuboTV starting with Scott Butera:
“The addition of Vigtory to fuboTV is a pivotal event in the sports entertainment industry. As sports fans increasingly desire interactive sports events, sports betting and related businesses such as iGaming and free to play contests have become a critical component of fan engagement. Combining fuboTV’s broad and deep offering of live streamed sporting events with Vigtory’s world-class sports betting products creates the ultimate sports betting experience for consumers.”
Sam Rattner is impressed with fuboTV’s impact in such a short time:
“I have followed fuboTV since its launch in 2015 and am impressed that this talented team has established itself as a leader in live TV streaming. uboTV and Vigtory share a common vision of developing great products based on great technology, all while being laser-focused on the consumer. To have the unique opportunity of integrating Vigtory’s innovative digital betting applications into live streaming, a leading vertical in how fans consume sports, is an unprecedented opportunity in the digital gaming market.”
This strategy definitely makes sense though it’s unclear how effective it will be in the nascent US sports betting market with patchwork state by state regulation remains to be seen. If every state had a decent regulatory setup like Colorado or Iowa, a company like fuboTV that could merge media and betting would do killer business. Unfortunately, the reality of US sports betting is that with few exceptions most states appear to be in a race to the bottom trying to outdo each other to set up the most brain dead regulatory framework possible.
That being said, the more that sports betting penetrates into other industries–and into the collective psyche of mainstream America–the better it is for everyone. My hope is that at some point bettors in states like Tennessee will start to question why they have such lousy sports betting options while states like Colorado have it good.
Financial markets have so far loved this type of sports betting/media synergy and fuboTV is no exception. fuboTV’s stock (NYSE:FUBO) was up 34.17% today following the announcement on a volume increase of 420%.