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Entain and Verizon Media announce innovation alliance

Verizon Media will develop first of its kind VR experience for live sports viewing as part of deal with Entain

New YouGov Research Reveals interactivity and social media are transforming Gaming and Entertainment

 Verizon Media, the global media and technology company and Entain plc (LSE: ENT), the international sports-betting and gaming operator (formerly known as GVC Holdings), today announced a global innovation alliance to develop new opportunities across interactive sports and entertainment.  Entain brands include Ladbrokes, bwin, PartyPoker, and BetMGM in the United States, which is co-owned with MGM Resorts.

The new alliance coincides with initial findings from new research for Entain by YouGov, revealing that the use of technology is increasingly shaping consumer behaviours in gaming and entertainment around the world, notably in the United States and Australia.  Social media has become central to consumer enjoyment, with new immersive experiences, driven by virtual reality and 5G, accelerating growth of both gaming and e-sports.

Verizon Media and Entain will collaborate to develop a first-of-its-kind highly immersive proof of concept virtual reality experience, that will combine live sports viewing with interactive layers of sports data and gaming. Consumers will be able to participate in sports events, check data, socialise with friends, and place bets on Entain platforms.

Additionally, Entain will work closely with Verizon Media to develop concepts for new formats with emerging technologies like 5G, virtual reality, and augmented reality to bring the best experiences in immersive content and gaming to sports betting and gambling.  Along with betting on the Entain platforms on live streaming sports events, the goal is to create realistic, immersive experiences for sports fans, such as being in the stadium, participating in play, competing and betting on outcomes on the Entain platforms.

“To win in the future we need to understand where consumers will be in five, ten years’ time and work with other global businesses also investing in that,” said Shay Segev, CEO of Entain. “We envisage consumers meeting at a game with friends, who could in fact be elsewhere, using virtual reality headsets to watch, interact and share the experience together and, potentially, compete between themselves at half time or feel like they’re on the pitch with the players.”

“This new alliance takes the collaboration between our two companies to a new level and will allow us both to maximize new opportunities across sports-betting, content and entertainment,” said Guru Gowrappan, CEO, Verizon Media.

“Together, we are building the next-generation of content experiences for sports and gaming fans. Our world-first 5G-enabled production studios in LA and London, creative technology teams and Verizon Media’s Immersive platform, that enables extended reality (XR) content to be created and distributed across digital channels at scale, allow partners like Entain to bring next-level immersive and interactive experiences to their customers.”

The collaboration builds on an existing successful relationship between Yahoo Sports, part of Verizon Media, and BetMGM, a joint venture with MGM Resorts through which Entain operates in the United States.  BetMGM is integrated throughout Yahoo Sports in the US, and in legal jurisdictions fans can place a bet with BetMGM without leaving the Yahoo Sports app.

The new alliance coincides with first findings of new research for Entain from YouGov, revealing that gaming and entertainment is converging across multiple devices and becoming increasingly interactive, with two-thirds of consumers combining it with social media to increase their enjoyment.

Across all markets, men aged 25 to 39 are the most likely to be innovators or early adopters and are the key audience for e-sports and gaming. Half of e-sports players are in this age group, with most also interacting in social media and more than half enjoying a bet. When it comes to conventional sport, interaction is also increasingly important to this audience, with 31% of 25 to 39-year-old and 34% of over 55’s also engaging digitally to increase their enjoyment of watching sport.