Super Bowl TV Stream Lag Leaves In-Game Bettors Behind Action Again

Seventy-six seconds had passed on Sunday night before FuboTV viewers learned that a pedantic holding penalty called on James Bradberry was about to sap the juice from the final minutes of Super Bowl LVII.

Fans in attendance at State Farm Stadium had already seen replays of the cornerback’s jersey tug of JuJu Smith-Schuster for nearly a minute before Hulu subscribers were able to decipher what the Twitter outrage was all about.

The millions who made in-game wagers on mobile sports betting apps were already caught up in trying to catch up. These real-time wagers that have become such a distinct taste nationally and a focus on the American sports betting industry remain throttled back as not even a 4K and 5G world was able to provide the instant information they needed, according to data gathered by Phenix.

The company, which purports to have developed technology to reduce lag to as little as a half second could eventually solve the problem by working with networks or sportsbooks. But so far, neither has felt sufficiently motivated to pay for the solution.

Maybe most viewers don’t care that they see an event so long after it really happened. Whether those who definitely care — bettors or second-screeners — provide enough pressure remains to be seen. A product officer at a licensed sportsbook in the US said that roughly 10-20% of in-game betting attempts fail.

“There’s no question that the handle would have been exponentially more had they been able to keep the betting window, conceivably, open that much longer to take bets on every play,” Phenix chief marketing officer Jed Corenthal told Gaming Today. “I guess for the real hardcore whale-type bettor, it probably doesn’t matter. They’ll bet on anything and everywhere, and that’s just what it is.

“But if these books are trying to get more and more casual bettors and acquire more users, then all the research suggests if you watch, you’ll bet more.”

The customers are there. According to data provided by Global Wireless Solutions:

  • The amount of sportsbook app users during the Super Bowl increased by 43% vs. last year’s game.
  • They opened up their sportsbooks apps 53% more times than in the 2022 Super Bowl (34 million vs. 22 million sessions)
  • Their usage time increased by 47%.
  • Nearly 42% of the Sunday sportsbook app sessions occurred between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. EST, up from 32% in 2022.

Read more: How Latency Impacts Sports Bettors

Super-Bowl-latency-sports-betting

Fox fared best with its over-the-air broadcast, cable, and streaming app in the most-watched telecast of all time.

Traditional broadcasts can’t be instantaneous because of built-in five-to-10-second network delays to better comply with Federal Communication Commission standards in the aftermath of the Justin Timberlake-Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” of Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004.

Some networks, Corenthal said, also manipulate latency through “time-shifting” to increase the audience size viewing something at the same time.

“It’s not getting better every year. In fact, it’s pretty much the same year over year,” Corenthal said. “We haven’t seen a whole lot of variation. This year the Fox app had a pretty good number comparatively speaking to everybody else. But you’re still looking at, at least from the field of play, which is what we measure, 20-some odd seconds.

“The streaming situation for them was at least better. Some of these other providers I think are still banking or relying on what we would call legacy technology that’s just not up to snuff.”

Corenthal said Fox’s over-the-air broadcast averaged 18 seconds behind from the field of play, cable 28 seconds.

How Reliable Was In-Game Super Bowl Betting On Major Apps?

According to a USAbility Digital study of in-play performance during the Super Bowl of FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars and Kambi clients Unibet and Barstool:

  • DraftKings had minimal suspensions, made decisions and moved odds before game officials did. It kept its spread, moneyline and totals markets live almost 99% of the time.
  • FanDuel had the most suspensions, but the shortest in duration average.
  • Caesars and BetMGM were hard to read, with more suspensions that didn’t necessarily reflect controversial plays on the field.
  • MGM and Barstool had fewer but longer suspensions.

Expensive Fix: Live Sports on Sportsbook Betting Apps

Data-provider Genius Sport gained the right to provide select “watch and bet” NFL streams through the Caesars Sportsbook app this season. But that was a handful of games, not a full-season package.

The NFL is about to begin an 11-year, $110 billion media rights deal with Amazon, CBS, ESPN, Fox, and NBC. A gambling corporation must be very bullish on sports betting return on investment to bid into that company. And in this era of more frugal customer-acquisition campaigns, that doesn’t seem frugal at all.

But Corenthal said Phenix will soon meet with data providers like Genius, Sportradar, and national sportsbook companies to show them how its product married with live streaming sports could be worth an investment.

“The books themselves are not at this point, at least, going to outlay that kind of money to get the rights directly from the leagues,” Corenthal said. “They get those video rights from [Sportradar], Genius, IMG ARENA, etc. So it’s beholden upon them to deliver the streams in real-time to the books if they want a watch-and-bet experience.

“The other thing that we’re working on is a financial model that would show them that if they were willing to switch their tech to real-time, how much more revenue would be generated by that.”

Philadelphia, Kansas Bettors Were at Mercy of Slow Signal

For now, lag.

During the Super Bowl, this lag likely affected millions of active or attempted sports bettors. According to GeoComply, 100 million geolocation checks were made on Saturday and Sunday, a 25% increase from last year’s Super Bowl weekend. Not all geolocation checks proceed into the placement of a bet, but it’s understood within the industry that the percentage of follow-through is very high.


Super Bowl Data from GeoComply

  • GeoComply conducted 100 million geolocation checks on Saturday and Sunday, a 25% increase from last year’s Super Bowl weekend.
  • GeoComply registered 7.4 million accounts over the weekend. This is a 32% increase from last year.
  • GeoComply’s data shows more than 100,000 geolocation checks in and around State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, from more than 8,000 fan sportsbook accounts.
  • New York topped all states with 13.9 million GeoComply geolocation checks over Super Bowl weekend.

More than 11.8 million checks were made in Philadelphia and 2.1 million in Kansas (250,000 were blocked in Missouri) during the same span. The amount of bet attempts lost in those home markets of the Super Bowl participants figures to be sizeable, as would have been the losses to sportsbooks, taxing agencies, and the frustration level of new bettors learning about latency for the first time.

(Main photo: Vera Nieuwenhuis/Associated Press)

About the Author
Brant James

Brant James

Senior Writer
Brant James is a senior writer who covers the sports betting industry and legislation at Gaming Today. An alum of the Tampa Bay Times, ESPN.com, espnW, SI.com, and USA Today, he's covered motorsports and the NHL as beats. He also once made a tail-hook landing on an aircraft carrier with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rode to the top of Mt. Washington with Travis Pastrana. John Tortorella has yelled at him numerous times.

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