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The Crazy Things People Are Betting On In The Absence Of Live Sports

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TOPLINE With most live sports suspended during the coronavirus pandemic, online gamblers have turned to different contests like Russian table tennis and Korean baseball, while also betting on everything from video games and reality television shows to political news and even the weather.

KEY FACTS

  • “[English] darts and esports have had big increases in betting volumes, along with football [soccer] leagues that have kept playing like the Belarusian Premier League,” says Pascal Lemesre, a spokesman for U.K. betting exchange platform Smarkets. “Horse racing remains our most-traded sport and has made up two-thirds of volume since the lockdown began.”
  • Many betting companies, like DraftKings, had to really dig and get creative with new offerings during the pandemic, says Johnny Avello, head of sportsbook for DraftKings. “We went out and found whatever we could… we wanted to keep our customers engaged.”
  • A charity golf match with Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Phil Mickleson and Tom Brady, for example, has drawn massive interest and could surpass the betting volumes DraftKings saw in last year’s major golf tournaments.
  • Betting on esports has also seen a huge uptick and has really “made its mark,” he says: Virtual NASCAR races proved to be immensely popular, along with daily fantasy for video games like League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. 
  • There has also been a lot of interest in betting on politics, including who will win the 2020 U.S. presidential election, who Democratic nominee Joe Biden will choose as his vice president and how long UK prime minister Boris Johnson will stay in office. 
  • According to data from Smarkets, almost $2 million has already been traded on the election, with Donald Trump retaining a 5% lead over Joe Biden; Kamala Harris is frontrunner to be Biden’s VP, slightly ahead of Amy Klobuchar.
  • Since the Democratic debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in mid-March, DraftKings has offered free-to-play betting pools around many political events, along with reality television shows like Survivor and Top Chef, and even the weather in certain states.

SURPRISING FACT

Bettors have certainly shown interest in gambling on the outcomes of their favorite TV shows: According to data from BetOnline, there was even a flurry of betting on the final episode of The Last Dance, with odds on things like whether Michael Jordan would cry while being interviewed or how many people would be shown with a cigar in their mouth.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Sportsbooks are seeing huge pent-up demand as some major sports like NASCAR and German Bundesliga soccer start to resume. Soccer, which normally makes up 45% of the Smarkets’ betting volume, fell to 23%, maintained largely by interest in the Belarusian Premier League and Nicaraguan soccer, both of which continued to play games amid the pandemic. With the German Bundesliga resuming last weekend, betting volumes increased 428% compared to the previous round of fixtures before coronavirus, according to Smarkets.

CRUCIAL QUOTE

“When you don’t have all the normal content, customers will migrate,” Avello says. “That’s the positive that’s going to come out of this—we’re always looking for additional content.” 

KEY BACKGROUND

DraftKings reported record betting during the NFL Draft last month—13x the volume from last year—and has also seen strong interest in the recent return of Ultimate Fighting Championship events, the company said. “We got good action on the stuff we did, but now that we’re starting to get back to core events, demand should rise even higher,” Avello predicts. If the NBA and NHL start playoff seasons this summer and the MLB returns, for instance, “it could be one of the bigger summers that we’ve ever had.”

Sergei Klebnikov, Forbes Staff, Markets

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Snapchat Partners With Adidas, Topshop, Farfetch On New E-commerce Feature

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Multimedia messaging app has launched a new free-to-use Dynamic Product Ads (DPAs) feature, allowing brands to create globally-served Snapchat ads in real-time to help them reach an increasingly online, younger audience. Adidas, Topshop and Farfetch are among the big-name fashion brands to have become advertising partners of Snapchat in the UK for its new e-commerce offering designed to “simplify the consumer purchase journey and drive measurable ROI”.

After testing the beta version of the DPAs for just a few weeks, Arcadia-owned Topshop achieved over four times the return on advertising spend (ROAS) benchmark usual for the UK market, the brand said. Adidas in turn saw a 52 percent growth in ROAS.

“In the wake of the Covid-19 epidemic, Adidas has further accelerated its digital business. With e-commerce a key focus for us in 2020 and beyond, we’re excited to Beta test Snapchat’s Dynamic Product Ads in the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands,” Adidas’ senior director of media activation Europe, Rob Seidu, said in a statement. “The launch of DPAs allows us a route to reach our target Gen Z and Millennial audiences with relevant product creative throughout the consumer journey.”

But it’s not just big brands that can access the feature. Snapchat said the new tool “allows brands of all sizes to showcase their products and services in a professional layout, through customized ad formats that can be easily set up.” The company said this will save advertisers time both on the creative process and on the admin side of things, allowing them to run ‘always-on’, measurable, campaigns.

Snapchat is looking to capitalise on the heightened focus in recent months on companies’ online operations after the Covid-19 pandemic caused international lockdowns and wreaked havoc on physical retail. In fact, online sales in the UK grew to a 10-year high in April, up 23.8 percent year-on-year, according to the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index.

Last month, social media giant Facebook announced the launch of its new shopping feature allowing businesses affected by the pandemic to set up a free online store on Facebook and Instagram. “In the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown we have shifts in how consumers are interacting with e-commerce with people increasingly shopping on their mobiles – a trend we expect to continue,” said FarFetch chief marketing officer Gareth Jones.

“As a result, we have re-engineered our e-commerce marketing activity to support the many fashion boutiques we work with, and the consumers we serve. Farfetch’s relationship with Snapchat has transformed our activity across the entire funnel and gives us a unique and an unduplicated audience across multiple markets.

“We leaned heavily into DPAs during the testing period and we have seen significant success that has translated into high-quality customers and ultimately transactions. We plan to continue to build on our relationship with Snapchat and we see them as an always-on partner.”

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Microsoft’s New Chromium Based Edge Browser Is Now Available Via Windows Update

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Microsoft new Chromium based Edge Browser is being rolled out to all users with the latest Windows update. The new Edge browser was first launched in January for Windows 10 users but users had to download it manually. Now, Microsoft is making it a part of Windows update and as per the company’s support page, the new Edge browser is available for Windows 10 version 1903 and 1909. Initially, the browser was only available to Windows Insiders through Windows 10 update but now, it has been made available to all users.

As per the Microsoft support page, this new Chromium-based version of Microsoft Edge comes with support for the “latest rendering capabilities, modern web applications, and powerful developer tools across all supported OS platforms.”

Windows 10 already comes with Microsoft Edge browser, but with this new update, Microsoft aims to make the transition from the current browser to the new Chromium-based version of Edge fully seamless. The support page states:

  • Microsoft Edge Users Will Get a Contextual Search Experience
  • Start menu and taskbar pins, tiles, and shortcuts will migrate to the new Edge browser from the current browser.
  • The new Edge browser will replace the current browser in the taskbar if the current one has been pinned.
  • Most protocols that Microsoft Edge handles will migrate to new Microsoft Edge.
  • After the update, First Run Experience (FRE) will auto-launch after the device restarts.
  • Data from earlier versions of Microsoft Edge including passwords, favorites, open tabs, etc. will be available in the new Microsoft Edge.

The prerequisites for the new Chromium-based version of Microsoft Edge for users updating from Windows 10 version 1903 is the October 8, 2019 – KB4517389 (OS Build 18362.418) update. Notably, like all other updates, this update with the new Edge browser will also be rolled out in batches and will reach all users gradually.

Microsoft has been working on the Chromium based version of Edge for quite a while now. The beta was first made available for Windows and macOS users in August last year. Then, in January this year, the company released the new browser for the public to manually download. A month later, it started bundling the Chromium version of Edge with Windows 10 update to Windows Insiders.

In March, the company added vertical tabs, Tracking Prevention, InPrivate Browsing, and a few other features to the Chromium version of Edge.

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How East African Musicians Are Generating Revenue Today

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As the world continues to embrace technology, and with the current state of quarantine in so many countries, musicians are in a constant search for new and better streams of income. In East Africa, artists and companies are looking to tap into a tech-savvy, smartphone-connected population of around 537 million people through several pathways.

Ahead of the MIDEM digital panel conversation on Reinventing Monetisation Sources in East Africa, which we will be moderating, we spoke with the panelists: Tanzanian star Vanessa Mdee, TRACE TV’s Head of Music Business East & Anglophone Africa and Swahili nation Founder Cleopatra Mukula, and Mdundo‘s Chief Operating Officer Wanjiku Koinange, and also hear from insider voices like Nairobi-based Camille Stormto get their takes on income options for artists in East Africa.

The best way for East African artists to make money right now—given the current situation

“Currently the best way is to monetize off of digital content and brand endorsements,” says star singer-songwriter Vanessa Mdee. “Beyond concerts, artists in East Africa make most of their revenue on social media and off of their music streaming platforms. However being a brand ambassador is the most lucrative means of making revenue aside from the above mentioned.”

Locking in partnerships with brands is a point that comes up a lot throughout our discussions with the group. Vanessa herself has had numerous deals with the likes of Samsung Tanzania, Doffi washing powder and others, as do all major artists in the region.

Mdundo’s Chief Operating Officer Wanjiku Koinange.
Photo courtesy of Mdundo.

“It’s a positive thing that artists are monetizing through their partnerships with brands,” says Cleopatra Mukula of TRACE. “Thank god for endorsements, that check goes a long way during this current situation, and most of the artists that I’ve spoken to say that. Some companies have started to do digital concerts sponsored by brands. Some of the brands in Uganda have been even sponsoring artists to do indoor concerts, all well controlled, but I can’t say names.”

But what can up-and-coming artists who can’t secure lucrative deals with brands do? “The obvious way is endorsements and brand ambassadors, but even then it’s the top 10 artists per country [getting them], specially those known in recent times,” weighs in Wanjiku Koinange of Mdundo.

“It would be great to see more artists working with brands that want some impact on social media to do monetized live streams and the like,” adds Camille Storm, founder of the Nairobi-based creative agency Camille & Co. and current OkayAfrica contributor. “Beyond that I would say a big source of income is digital ringtone downloads.”

“What I love about artists from the East is that we like to think about smart ways of monetizing our business,” mentions Mukula, “If we look at Vanessa Mdee, she’s not just an artist but an entrepreneur. She has merch and a record label—that keeps a smart ecosystem. You’re not just making revenue from live shows but also supporting other artists and monetizing through the collective. Merch has been a big one. Quite a few artists have merch in the East. A Pass, Diamond Platnumz has his media/record label, Ali Kiba has partnered with brands.”

Streaming & online service options for East African artists

“The future is in data and East Africa has that,” says Cleopatra Mukula. “The East African algorithm and ecosystem actually drives lots of business for artists in the East and lots of Africa. Africa has 1.2 billion people. A minimum of 75% are on smartphones. Look at the data. The majority are 35-years-old and under. This is a demographic that consumes music. For East Africa, you have a population 537 million. In Nairobi, 80% of people have a smartphone.”

“East Africa like most of Africa is filled with Android users and the most popular music platform for the consumer has been Boomplay,” adds Vanessa Mdee. “Apple Music only recently became available for the music consumer in East Africa even though iOS/Apple products have been in use for years.”

“The generally cheaper data prices in East Africa (especially Tanzania) could see music on these platforms do super well as it has on Youtube for example,” mentions Camille Storm.

Cleopatra Mukula, TRACE TV’s Head of Music Business East & Anglophone Africa
Photo courtesy of Cleopatra Mukula.

The mobile-web based music service Mdundo has been operating in East Africa and beyond for close to eight years. It offers songs for free downloads and streaming directly from their website and Android app. “We’re predominantly a digital music service available as a web download and streaming app. We have 5 million users on a monthly basis and work with 50 thousand artists signed directly to our platforms,” explains Wanjiku Koinange, “but we also have partnerships with Believe, Tunecore and others.”

“We create an option for users to be able to stream, an option for low income users on the digital space, people who have very basic phones or smartphones. We’re trying to get all the music available on the catalog for free. Piracy is the number one thing we have to fight.” Any user searching for “download Sauti Sol” on Google, for example, will see Mdundo’s site in the top results. The company cites that it now has 7.2 million users in Tanzania, 7.1 million users in Kenya, and 5.4 million in Nigeria, 3.4 million in South Africa and more across the continent.

Streaming giants like Apple Music and American companies like Audiomack are also looking to the region. “Apple Music recently just expanded to Tanzania and are super interested in setting up closer relationships with more East African acts and labels,” mentions Camille Storm. “Audiomack also shows a lot of support for East Africa with their playlists and promotions. It would be great for East African artists to hop on these opportunities to learn and grow to get on par with the rest of the world in terms of roll-out strategies for their music on these streaming platforms for maximum impact as well.”

Build from within or look towards streaming giants?

“We have for a while tried to support and work with national/local streaming companies like Mkito, Mdundo, Mzikii, however the Chinese Boomplay and American Audiomack have been the most popular amongst the masses because of their ease on consumers as well as their availability to Android users,” explains Vanessa Mdee. “The consistency for consumer and artist with the local streaming platforms has been unstable over the years hence why the dependency on the more developed streaming companies.”

Vanessa Mdee.
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Wanjiku Koinange of Mdundo has this to say: “We are learning from Apple and Spotify but we also understand that the systems that allow them to exist, like royalty collections, are not necessarily what we have here. In Kenya, for example, we don’t use credit cards/debit cards as often, we have the mobile money. So for these companies, if they’re trying to get into this market, the cost would be big. I don’t know if it would make sense. They could cater to the top income earning population that do have credit cards or do the required subscription payments.”

“I do think the solution will come from within and what I imagine will happen will be to tailor a product similar to services like ours (Mdundo, Boomplay),” Wanjiku adds. “The solutions will come faster from within. The model of Mdundo has changed a bit throughout the years and it’s focused on the app and changed our product market.”

“I think the whole of Africa in general needs to build from within first,” agrees Camille Storm. “There’s a lot that we need to do that can’t be fixed overnight by major companies or international record labels coming in. We can’t look to them for all the answers but I think international companies coming in to invest in the East African music industry would be beneficial and it’s something that is bound to happen anyway. But for them to effectively work with us or invest in us we also have to have made more progress in terms of creating a system that really works on the ground with regards to functioning labels and creative agencies, charting systems, and royalty collection and payments.”

“An option could be that big players come in to the market and find smart people to adapt DSP services locally,” says Cleopatra Mukula. “The smart players will understand that for you to really work with East Africa you have to understand the culture, the people and find ways of dealing with a demographic that’s sustainable on its own.”

– Kam Tambini/Okay Africa

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Munyaradzi Chanetsa Appointed As A&R Manager At Sony/ATV Music Publishing

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Sony/ATV Music Publishing South Africa has appointed Munyaradzi Chanetsa as its Africa A&R manager with effect from 1 June.

Chanetsa joins Sony/ATV SA from the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (CAPASSO) where he served as head of licensing since March-April 2019. Before CAPASSO, he was head of operations at Content Connect Africa where he also assumed the role of managing director for Content Connect Ghana and Content Connect International. Chanetsa also served as the head of marketing and promotions in South Africa for New York label Putumayo World Music.

He will be responsible for finding new talent throughout the continent, promoting songwriters’ copyright and careers, and connecting them with bigger opportunities. He will also work closely work with his Sony/ATV colleagues to pitch new and existing repertoire to the marketplace.

“I have worked with Munyaradzi previously and I have no doubt we have a person here who brings with him dedication, passion and experience, which is key as we expand our publishing business across the continent,” Sony/ATV South Africa managing director Rowlin Naicker said.

Details of Chanetsa’s appointment come after Sony/ATV SA partnered last week with his previous employer, Content Connect Africa, on a deal that will seek to expand the label’s publishing services.

“I am joining a great team of talented people who share my passion, and I just cannot wait to see what we can all achieve together,” Chanetsa said.

Sony/ATV international president Guy Henderson said: “We are excited to work with him to achieve our goals. Munyaradzi is a creative talent with vast experience and a perfect fit for our company and its creative ambitions. With Munyaradzi’s position in the creative community both in South Africa and across the African continent, he will be a great addition to our global team.”

Chanetsa is a well-known music executive in Africa with more than 10 years of A&R and licensing experience. He has engaged mobile and online platforms, independent record labels, artists and music publishers. He has also been a featured presenter on music copyright at leading forums and conferences in South Africa, Angola, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

– Ano Shumba/musicinafrica.net

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