Why volleyball betting is all set for a spike

Author:  Jonny Clegg
Tom Warburton, Head of Sportsbook Product at Betgenius, outlines the growing opportunity in volleyball betting
2017 CEV Volleyball Champions League

Despite 2018 being all about the FIFA World Cup for the betting world, savvy operators won’t be overlooking the growing importance of sports other than football. The world’s number one sport remains the key focus for almost all bookmakers, with a mature betting product, a knowledgeable and engaged customer base, and wall-to-wall media coverage guaranteeing public interest in even the most trivial markets (pie-gate, anyone?).

But as all eyes shift to Russia this summer, another less high profile sport will continue to drive serious revenues for those operators already investing in the quality of their offering: volleyball.

Volleyball is a truly global sport with a huge audience in all four corners of the globe. It is comfortably in the 10 most popular sports in the world with a fan-base of close to a billion, and only behind field hockey, badminton and football in terms of participation.

Serving up profits

It also hits all the right notes as a betting product. Fast-paced and with a quick turnover of points and sets, it has more in common with tennis than perhaps any other sport, making it a huge in-play opportunity for bookmakers. Add to that its popularity within crucial emerging online betting markets such as Russia, Brazil and across Eastern Europe, and it’s not hard to see why volleyball is worth the investment.

Which is exactly what we have done. Last year our sister company Genius Sports acquired Data Project, the leading supplier of data management and scoring solutions to professional volleyball leagues, federations and clubs globally. Its technology solutions are used by over 80% of the leading volleyball leagues worldwide, including the premier competitions in Italy, France and Brazil, and through a growing number of official partnerships we are tapping into the fastest and most reliable data available.

For the betting industry, this move provides an enormous boost to the volume and quality of volleyball content available. We are harnessing real-time game data on thousands of matches a year to vastly improve the quality of volleyball trading, in turn delivering better margin for our partners.

Because, despite its global popularity, volleyball has presented bookmakers with a challenge from a trading perspective, with shrewd punters often using the sport’s relatively low coverage to get an edge or find significant value at will.

By providing bookies with a far more detailed set of data and precise modelling, we are helping them gain a far greater level of confidence in the product. To give that some context, we’ve quadrupled the number of bookmakers taking our volleyball product to almost 50 in the past year alone.

Official data at the heart of the product

The step-change in product quality will mirror the work we have done in basketball. Through the use of official data derived from Genius Sports’ partnerships with around 200 basketball leagues, our basketball trading product is now widely considered the best on the market.

This is a model where everybody wins. The sport attracts a new and sustainable revenue stream, sportsbook operators benefit from faster, more accurate and more reliable data, and the end user gets a better quality experience with more choice over what they bet on. The number of matches we offer markets on has increased seven-fold in the past year and with official partnerships with over a dozen of Europe’s biggest leagues and federations – and over half of those exclusively – this growth will continue at a rate of knots.

Before the World Cup sweeps away everything in its path this summer, bookies must ensure they are serving up a volleyball product worthy of the sport’s global status – and potential.