An Interview with Freddie Bowring, Sales Director for Asia
When did you join IMG ARENA?
May 2015. I was employee number 7- I think. Amazing to think given how many people are in the team now.
What is your role at IMG ARENA?
Sales Director for Asia and Pacific.
How long have you been in your current role?
Since the start of 2019, when I relocated to Hong Kong.
First sporting memory?
Watching Cantona flying feet first into the stands at Selhurst Park in 1995.
Favourite Industry event?
ICE or G2E Asia. The golf days at Asian Lottery conferences are always great fun though.
Which jurisdictions does your region cover?
The entirety of Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
What makes the AsiaPac market unique?
The sheer size and volume of the market is unique, but also the sophistication of business out here is remarkable. Whether it be organisations like the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Singapore Pools or TABCORP in Australia or the PAGCOR licensees we work with, the speed at which the region and operators adapt to changes in regulation is remarkable.
Does the high volume, low margin style of market in Asia work well for Virtual Sports?
The nature of the Asian market is highly suited to Virtual Sports. The significant growth is down not only to players wanting instant and often gratification, but due to players feeling more engrossed in the game. We know that the blurring of lines between virtual and real content transform the user experience and when paired with a margin like that of a slot gaming style product, it leads to a highly engaged player and successful product in Asia.
We have found that our Instant Virtuals combined with our simple UI allows higher revenues for both Casino facing brands and sportsbook operators.
How is the Instant Football Virtual doing in the market?
Very well. Football is the number one sport in Asia and the instant capabilities of all the IMG ARENA Virtuals allow players to have their own experience. Players want instant gratification; they also want their own personalised individual experience like they would have on a casino floor. They can have that through our Instant Virtual suite and revenues are higher as a result of Instant Virtuals.
How popular are branded games in the region?
Massively popular, in the last 2 months, we have had almost 20 new clients integrating and launching our officially branded Virtuals across Asia. Having a federation connected to the games gives a much more realistic feel and immersive experience for the end player. Increased player loyalty and higher retention rates lead to higher revenues in these games. There has been a real shift in Asia whereby consumers want high-quality games which include official and branded features.
What sports are the most popular with bettors in the region?
As previously mentioned, football is the most popular sport in the region. As such, this suits our business very well as we have 5 of the top 10 football leagues around the world; including all the available English Football. In addition, our Asian Leagues and Asian facing content perform well during the key hours of the day. They also allow for a 24/7 content service enabling companies to retain highly engaged clients for longer whilst building brand loyalty in the region.
Do you see different demands for content across the region?
Although football is the most important sport across East Asia. Cricket is massively important for operators in other parts of the region. Last year we had well over 35 million views of our cricket content online.
In Korea, 70% of the LPGA Tour players are Korean so there has been widespread interest in our new PGA Tour and European Tour Golf Product. The growth of tennis and UFC across Asia represents a massive opportunity to acquire bettors as well as increasing their revenue streams with new sports.
What has been the biggest game-changer for sports betting in the last ten years?
The officialising of content in the industry. It has led to significantly improved more innovative products. The tennis and badminton betting experience for operators and customers alike has been immeasurably improved through our official point-by-point data. Through our PGA Tour and European Tour partnership, golf is a major focus and the possibilities in terms of fast markets and data collection are endless.
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