Michael Pedersen – Taking Casino Streams to the Next Level
Michael Pedersen, the Chief Commercial Officer at Livespins, generously shared his time with us to answer some questions for the next installment in our interview series. He discusses the role of streaming and, more specifically, social streaming in iGaming, what it means for players and operators, and what direction the industry is likely to take in the coming years.
Hello, and thank you for doing this interview with casinoreviews.net!
What was it that attracted you to Livespins, how much of your experience in previous roles do you feel you can bring and how important was all of this in your decision-making process?
From the first time Robin showed me the Livespins product, I was sold. There have been many clunky attempts to produce social products; however, Livespins cracks the code and is positioned well in the market. I wrote my MBA thesis in 2010 on social media and launched Letsbet.com in 2017 as one of the first operators in the world to introduce live entertainment in the form of a casino "host" into the online casino experience. I also enjoyed my time at Flutter and NetEnt, and really, I am drawing on all of my previous experiences in this role with Livespins.
What motivated the move for Livespins into the streaming niche of online gambling?
We are right now entering a new era of live entertainment, initiated by the live dealer experience, expanded by the gameshow experience, and now live entertainment in an online format is the next frontier. Web 3.0 is coming, and we strongly believe a critical player segment is looking for a more connected and social experience in iGaming, just as they are experiencing with computer games, and we are now also seeing the tech giants like Apple adding more and more social features to their products. Players are increasingly looking for more of an entertainment experience as opposed to just a solo session of slot play.
Your platform definitely brings something unique and innovative to the iGaming space. In your own words, how would you explain how the concept works to someone who is new to online gambling?
It's very simple, actually. Livespins is allowing operators to offer a "Twitch-like" experience, but where the players can join the action and bet behind the streamer instead of just passively watching a casino streamer play on Twitch.
How much of an impact do you believe that gamification has had on iGaming, and how do you see it progressing in the future?
It depends on how you define the word "gamification." Typically, this term refers to using computer game mechanics, i.e., a progression bar and reward levels to a user's activity, creating an incentive for the user to stay for longer or come back more often. In this light, I think gamification has had a large impact on the industry, and we have moved closer to the computer games experience. The next step now is social gameplay, a new vertical that Livespins wants to lead.
Is this pivot towards streaming and collaborations with streamers in the industry a play to appeal to the younger demographic (Gen Z/Y)?
This used to be the case, but now such a "connected" entertainment experience is expected by the mass market.
Millennials grew up with connected computer games and are now 35-40 years of age, meaning the most valuable segment of players for both providers and operators, and it's paramount that an operator is able to attract and retain this player segment, which is where Livespins comes in. Gen Z is now 25 years of age, and they are naturally expecting a more engaging experience as default, as they don't know anything else.
How much of the Twitch market do you feel can be converted into Livespins users, based on your proprietary technology platform and how it works?
Livespins primarily is a retention play for operators, as it delivers such a rich entertainment experience in a group setting that players stick around longer as they engage with a like-minded community of players through Livespins. Keep in mind the streaming experience takes place natively inside the operator casino lobby, not on a 3rd party like Twitch. That said, we will be multi-casting to Twitch, and any traffic captured there will be pushed towards the overall ecosystem and our partners.
To what extent do you feel that social gaming can disrupt the iGaming industry, and could it have a similar impact that the live casino niche has had?
We can call social gaming a new vertical, but really, I think it's more about a significant and growing player segment that has been raised with and comes to expect a more engaging, social, and connected experience than traditional slots played in isolation can offer. It's a consumer macro trend introduced as the generations having grown up with such experiences have now become significant.
We honestly believe our industry needs to pay attention or risk becoming irrelevant over the coming years. Instead of gambling companies adding entertainment features, we are also seeing a lot of entertainment companies adding gambling features, i.e., DAZN sports streaming and now betting. This movement will continue to happen and pose a significant threat to operators sticking their heads in the sand and refusing to adapt to these trends. It's time to wake up or be left behind.
Do you think that marketing through influencers (streamers in this case) has become essential for any company trying to be competitive in the iGaming space? Could this effectively overtake traditional marketing methods?
I believe every company needs to understand streaming, take it seriously and have a strategy around it. For some, it makes sense to engage a lot; for others, not so much. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer; it all depends on the situation of the brand and the landscape they are navigating, i.e., markets, regulations, budgets, product fit, etc. What I do think is essential is understanding the space and not pretending it doesn't exist.
More than 280.000.000 hours were consumed on the Slots category of Twitch in the past 12 months.
Doesn't sound like a trend that should be ignored, in my view.
Do you feel there will be certain markets that respond more favorably to social gaming over others, for example, US/Canada/Europe, and if so, for what reasons?
We are seeing this already. Asian facing operators are all over Livespins as the consumers in those markets are leading the social streaming game and have been for years now. The US casinos are a close second, however, not because of streaming per se, but more because Livespins delivers a much more live and immersive player experience that their players are used to from their land-based properties. European operators are also very interested in Livespins; they are very tuned into market trends and aware that this new era of live entertainment has become important to attract and retain the players of today.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions! It certainly sounds as if there is a great deal to look forward to from Livespins, and we are sure it will be fascinating to follow and hugely enjoyable to join in with as the social streaming market continues to grow.