Promoted feature: Experience will be key to US success
Dan Pozner, who recently took over as VP of content for Spotlight Sports Group, speaks to EGR about its US market targets and his plans to grow Pickswise
EGR Intel: Can you talk us through your previous role as director – gambling content at NBC Sports and how that will compare with your new position at Spotlight Sports Group?
Dan Pozner (DP): When PASPA [the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act] was overturned three years ago, NBC assembled a team of executives who were meeting on a bi-weekly basis to work out how to make the most of this new opportunity. I heard those meetings were going on and asked if I could be a fly on the wall. After two of those meetings, our executive producer said we needed to have someone execute the ideas that had come up, so I put my hand up and said it was an area I was quite excited about. They then named me as director – gambling content.
I did that for two years and, to be honest, it was content-focused in title only. I was the only fully focused sports betting employee at the company out of about 3,000 employees, so I wore a bunch of different hats. I did our data deal and helped lead all the partnership conversations that led to securing PointsBet as the official sports betting partner. I laid some of the groundwork for the betting content that has now led to the rebrand of Rotoworld, the fantasy sports content website, to NBC Sports Edge. We launched a podcast and a whole vertical of betting content. I was also overseeing the free-to-play NBC Sports Predictor app. It was about the additional engagement opportunity and growing that database of fans who are used to making predictions before a sporting event for free, with the long-term aim of converting them to sports bettors with PointsBet.
In my new role at Spotlight, I’m now fully focused on the content. It was a good experience to be involved in the business and client management side, but my passion is more in the content world, so this new role is right in my wheelhouse. When I saw the job description, every bullet point ticked the boxes for my ideal role. Three weeks in, things have kicked into gear and we’ve started to make inroads. I’ve started contributing and I’m starting to lead this new content team focused on Pickswise. We are getting a lot done and need to get a lot more done before the NFL season.
EGR Intel: Focusing on Pickswise, to what extent does the US-based sports fan still need to be educated about free picks and sports betting in general?
DP: It really varies. There is a wide spectrum of betting knowledge in the US, and I would say it’s still in its infancy. There are still only a handful of US states with legal mobile sports betting and to use a baseball analogy, we’re still in the second or third inning. There is a massive portion of the audience that still needs education on the basics of sports betting. There are so many bet types, so some players may not be familiar with some of the more exotic markets and some of the fun ways you can bet on sports. You can now bet on the first basket in the NBA or whether a run will be scored in the first inning of a baseball game. These markets were seen as small, derivative markets, but they have grown in popularity because they provide quick, fun excitement at the start of a game. It’s those fun, additional opportunities that can take a fan’s enjoyment of sports betting to a whole other level.
EGR Intel: Spotlight’s Superfeed content engine now includes content for US sports. Can you talk us through Superfeed’s US offering and what that can bring to the market that it may have been missing?
DP: Superfeed can help sports media companies who may have a betting audience, but may not be tailoring their content towards them. Superfeed can easily be plugged in to bring content and actionable insights to that portion of the audience who are interested. From a sportsbook standpoint, the product helps companies in the long term and will help them hold the audience they may have acquired in the land grab early on when PASPA was overturned. Some operators have statistics and advanced insights as part of the offering when you go to a game page, but many don’t, so there is also a gap there where Superfeed can bring those types of actionable insights and information within that one experience. The theory is it will lead to more betting as the consumer feels more informed.
EGR Intel: What would you say is the standout target for Spotlight in the US?
DP: It’s two paths right now. In some instances, we need to play catch up and bring our product offering up to a whole other level and cater to the audience in all ways possible across multiple platforms. We then need to differentiate the product. There is a lot of competition in the operator space right now, but also in the betting content space. Across the next three or four years, it’s about making Pickswise that go-to destination before making a bet. Whether it’s in an app or built within the sportsbook app itself, there definitely is an opportunity to bring that to a whole other level.
EGR Intel: What will be your challenges for growth in the US and how can you work around them?
DP: The main challenge is understanding the fact we don’t have the first-mover advantage some of our competitors have. Some have been around since even before PASPA was overturned, but we will lean into our three decades of experience with the Racing Post brand and focus it on the US market, to make an even better product offering across all the platforms. I absolutely think given our willingness to invest in the market, we can be successful in the US, and that’s why I was so excited to join the US team.
Dan Pozner has joined Spotlight Sports Group as VP of content to help lead expansion into the US market with Pickswise. Pozner previously worked for 10 years at NBC Sports, where he most recently served as director of gambling content. Outside of work, he enjoys playing and watching golf. As a native of Massachusetts, he is still a massive Patriots fan despite having lived in enemy territory New York City for the past decade.