Scot McClintic, chief product officer of Fanatics Betting and Gaming, recently sat down with LSR to discuss the sports merchandise giant’s foray into an online sportsbook.
First launching in June, Fanatics Sportsbook is now available in five states. Through the first four weeks of NFL betting, it ranked fourth in downloads among all sports betting apps, according to JMP Securities.
Its cash-back system and a widely used search feature headline the developer’s goals for innovation. Its acquisition of PointsBet promises to help with the “meat and potatoes” of a typical app, according to McCltintic, who believes the benefits of PointsBet’s technology will lead to a more personalized betting experience.
LSR: Fanatics launched earlier this year. How’s it going?
McClintic: It’s going well relative to our expectations. When you build an app this complicated from scratch there are many unknowns. We’ve tried to focus on the basics and, simultaneously, on what can make us stand out, like our discover feed, search capabilities, fast signup, and loyalty program.
Tons of customers are using search, but more importantly, reusing it. Roughly 40% or 50% of Fanatics bets are placed from off of the discover feed. We made bets that built an excellent foundation. Now, we’re investing more in the meat and potatoes, the core functionality you’ll see across other sportsbooks, player prop tracking, metadata, etc.
Over the next six weeks, there’s going to be a ton of development, things like data visualization that you get if you don’t have a live stream available, and then, all the stuff that you’re accustomed to seeing on other sportsbooks is going to come.
LSR: Half of your bets come from the discover feed? Why is that so important?
McClintic: The discover feed has odds boosts, promotions, and marquee events. Given how malleable and flexible it is, a lot of customers are engaging with different prices and content within the feed. It helps capture what they want, which is typically diffused throughout an app and consolidates it in one place. Our ability to personalize that to the customer will only get more powerful.
Everyone will watch Thursday night football, but if you’re really a Giants fan, we might want to show you a Daniel Jones prop. As you bet more, we can curate that experience even more. So, if we’re seeing excellent conversion numbers today, I expect that to increase even more as it becomes more personal.
LSR: How is the FanCash reward system working?
McClintic: Of anything we’ve had unanimously positive feedback about, it’s been that. Users say it’s easy to understand. We’re constantly thinking about how to expand it beyond merchandise and bets. What if we could take you to the Super Bowl or to meet your favorite athlete? There are experiences you might not get with other operators. It could be game-changing for Fanatics.
We’ve got bonus bets today. Profit boosts and things like that are coming, but embedding more utility around what you can do with your FanCash is the goal. When we roll out our casino, it could be free spins or casino credits, but all those kinds of experiential things, absolutely.
LSR: How have you utilized the technology Fanatics acquired from buying PointsBet?
McClintic: Odds Factory and Banach are powering our NFL prices, which is fantastic. We’re rolling out more Banach pricing feeds into sports that will come, like NBA and college basketball.
We’re making sure we get NFL right, and then, as we progress throughout the sports calendar, we’ll start to flip off more third-party external pricing feeds and flip on the Banach pricing feeds.
LSR: What would you notice if betting on a Banach-powered sport like the NFL? Is it faster? Are lines better?
McClintic: A bit of both. Launching around the NFL season was kind of a trial by fire. We are careful about what we’re turning on and when.
Over the next few weeks, you’ll notice more markets, cash-out options and better pricing. Those are all things that Banach helps us do better.
It also helps tremendously with live betting. We want to minimize suspension times and increase the speed it takes to get your bet in. Banach’s pricing feeds allow a bit more volatility tolerance instead of odds changing in an unfavorable way or a suspension.
LSR: Where does machine learning fit in?
McClintic: Our data science and engineering team is focused on building data models around what a customer wants to see, just like any other consumer-facing app, like Spotify or Twitter. If someone has done certain things, what should we show them next?
The other thing at the core of Banach is when you create prices, you run a lot of simulations based on historical data and infuse things like weather, injuries, etc. You get a predicted outcome, then you figure out what you want your price to be. We’re trying to figure out how to marry that ability to the content you’re displaying.
The jury’s out on where we take it from there, but I think there is a world where if we know you’re (an Alabama) fan, we can tie in the content and maybe create personalized wider odds tolerances or a better bet price. There’s a way to synchronize the customer experience with the back-end pricing creation. We know that we can figure that out and that’s part of what’s next.