Wednesday, October 10, 2018

No One Knows What Sports Betting is Going to Look Like, But it Ain't Going Anywhere

I was digging through some old electronics recently and came across my Slingbox. For those who don't know, a Slingbox attached to your cable box at home and allowed you to watch your home TV from anywhere in the world (over an internet connection). I purchased one way back in 2008 or 2009 so I could watch TV at the little place in the sticks, and have it when I traveled (I hated hotel rooms where I didn't know which channel was which).

This device - developed in 2002 by a couple of guys who wanted to watch the Giants play baseball on their local feed when away from home - was a fantastic piece of tech, well before its time.

Now, many years on, I see this company (purchased by Dish a few years ago) has halted production. And when I go to hotel rooms, or out of the country, I watch a hotel TV, or try to login to several apps and can't because of geo-blocking and other restrictions. The tech world, when it came to streaming and TV channels, has all changed.

Right now in the US, it's 2002 for sports betting. For evidence of that, pull up the Legal Sports Report twitter feed.

There are companies jockeying with others for deals, new states coming aboard, new contest and parlay game marketing. There are massive amounts of money being invested into new tech, especially for in-game betting; there are large companies buying data companies for some pretty nice valuations. And of course, as we've spoken about numerous times over the years here, if you have a book of customers prequalified to bet (like DFS companies do), they're worth a lot of money and are hard targets for M and A.

What we're seeing at the present time is the boom phase, which is a little bit of wild west.

How is this all going to shake out? I don't think anyone knows. Things are so raw and the industry is so nascent you can look silly trying to decide which way is up.

But two things I think are safe to predict: One, what we're seeing now with all the machinations, investment, products and companies is not the long term reality. There are a whole lot of slingboxes out there that won't be around in their current form in ten years. And two, this industry - like the evolving of streaming and television offerings -  is not going anywhere, and will only get bigger and bigger.

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