During ESI London, online bookmaker Pinnacle and esports data provider GRID announced a long-term partnership. Shared during the ‘Reliable data: can a standard be agreed?’ panel at the conference, Marco Blume, Trading Director at Pinnacle and Moritz Maurer, CEO of GRID were both on-stage to discuss their stances on data in the esports industry.
To delve into the partnership and exactly what it entails, Esports Insider sat down with Blume and Maurer after the panel had taken place.
Esports Insider: This deal is a landmark one within the esports betting ecosystem. What makes this deal so important, and what value does this partnership offer both parties?
Marco Blume: This deal is big for Pinnacle, it’s big for GRID, but it’s also big for esports as a whole. We’re proud to be the pioneer of esports betting but we’re not going to stand still and let others catch up. Through working with GRID, the odds our customers bet with, the amount of markets they can choose from and the content we produce for them to will continue to improve. Our B2B partners will also benefit from an even greater level of risk management across esports and have access to an abundance of clean, quality data.
Moritz Maurer: GRID and Pinnacle both lead the charge across B2B sales of esports data and odds respectively, offering a level of unparalleled focus to esports. This coupled with the premium quality that both services offer, allows the commercial efforts to not be compromised by the influences of traditional sport. Much rather, this deal is designed to extract the maximum amount of value to esports rights holders partnered with GRID. We’re incredibly excited about that as it is aligned with our vision and happy to have found a partner in Pinnacle sharing this approach.
“Everyone benefits from this kind of deal, from the game developers and event organisers, down to the players and fans.”
ESI: We’ve read a lot lately about official data rights and the role it plays in traditional sports. How important are official data rights in esports, and why should operators and esports bettors care about data originating from official sources?
Moritz: In recent years we’ve seen a maturity develop across traditional sport and its attitude towards respecting the rights holder regarding the use of data. Esports, irrespective of the richness and granularity of its data which can be distributed immediately, lacks maturity in its efforts towards formalising an infrastructure that serves those who pertain to owning the data. GRID facilitates this formality and works with partners to enforce integrity and analytics against third party consumption.
The movement towards official data serving regulated gaming industries is imperative in combatting initiatives which have plagued esports to date such as unregulated betting/skin gambling.
Marco: The growth of esports has been great to see. The contrast in the scale of the events, the level of competition and the number of fans from when we started offering esports markets in 2010 compared to now is truly incredible. However, data rights are an important part of the infrastructure that hasn’t grown at the same rate. If we want to improve the sustainability of esports, maintain its integrity and improve the experience for esports fans then we need to work on regulating data. I’d like to think this partnership sets a new gold standard for others in the industry.
ESI: Having launched in 2018, GRID might still be a new name to some in the industry. How do you attract the interests of an establish global brand like Pinnacle? And what was the motivation for Pinnacle to partner with a relatively new organisation?
Moritz: GRID employs a “skin in the game” approach in establishing data rights as a new revenue channel. This approach and the services that GRID operates resonate well with the biggest stake holders in the industry because the incentives are aligned in the partnership. This stands in contrast to companies operating a business model which exploits data in an unofficial manner without any commercial considerations for leagues, teams or tournaments.
Marco: I’ve said many times before that esports is in Pinnacle’s DNA, and it was clear from our first conversations that it’s the same with GRID. When you’re dealing with good people that are philosophically aligned and share the same goals, it doesn’t take much more to motivate you to do a deal. Some people out there might view this as a risk but even then, we’re a bookmaker. Taking risks is what we do, and this is one that we are very comfortable taking!
ESI: How long will this initial partnership deal last and what can we expect in terms of growth for both of you, and the industry, in that time?
Marco: I think the paperwork says four years, but that’s an arbitrary number as far as I’m concerned. Moritz and myself were clear from the start that this was a long-term deal and with so much potential growth, putting a timeframe in place is kind pointless. You don’t know what’s going to happen in six months in esports, let alone a few years. The primary objective of this deal is obviously to serve the interests of Pinnacle and GRID but I honestly think it’s one that will change the way the industry values data rights. Everyone benefits from this kind of deal, from the game developers and event organisers, down to the players and fans.
Moritz: The partnership is designed to deliver the definitive esports betting solution to the industry and capture the potential of the fastest growing entertainment sector in the world. GRIDs comprehensive network of partnerships is a testament to the success of our platform approach. Ultimately our partnered competitions will benefit the most from the establishment of this new framework for data in esports.
“We have more tools at our disposal to engage with the esports audience that are new to betting or only do it for fun.”
ESI: Will this partnership help Pinnacle capture a bigger share of that recreational segment of the market? How does GRID’s product fit in with the interests and betting appetite for these types of customers?
Marco: This partnership will help us enhance the Pinnacle product on all levels. Our success has been built on an ability to operate at low margins and offer the high limits that serious bettors want so it would be foolish to veer away from that. Now, thanks to GRID, we have more tools at our disposal to engage with the esports audience that are new to betting or only do it for fun. Whether it’s player prop markets, data-led insights or high-quality content full of useful statistics, Pinnacle now has something to offer every type of customer.
Moritz: It is anticipated to leverage GRID’s user facing data solutions as part of Pinnacle’s offering with an aim of improving fan experiences and increasing the accessibility of esports to a broader audience. Despite the digital nature of esports the availability of quality statistics and related content is still quite limited. GRID aims to improve this situation and allow Pinnacle to present a rounded solution to its users and B2B customers.