Thanks to the increasing digitization of society, improved trust in online betting services, and slowly relaxing legal statuses worldwide, the online gambling industry is booming. According to Statista, the online betting industry as a whole is expected to grow from a 2017 market valuation of $45.8 billion to an estimated $94.4 billion in 2024.
A significant part of this growth is being driven by Live online Casino gambling. While this means big opportunities for online gambling providers and operators, the complexity of delivering this service throws up a series of barriers that need to be overcome. Several of these challenges can be grouped under a single topic: live video streaming. Without video metrics, how do online casinos ensure they adequately deliver their games to their end users? How can they avoid lost revenue due to low quality streaming? And how can they optimize their service in a way that allows them to make the most of this golden opportunity?
This article will explore the role of online video analytics in the delivery chain between online casinos and digital gamblers, identifying and explaining the real-time streaming video metrics that stakeholders in the online gambling industry are using to capitalize on the growing demand for live digital casino experiences on a global scale.
Video Analytics for Live Casinos Explained
The delivery chain of a live casino is, in most cases, separated into two entities: the provider of the online gambling service — where the games will be created and streamed — and the online gambling operator, which is the platform where players can access the games and place the bets.
The goal for both providers and operators is to replicate as closely as possible a ‘real’, bricks and mortar casino experience. The more successful they are in approximating this experience, the more bets will be placed on time, more rounds will be played, and satisfaction levels will go up in all corners. For both the casino and on the user end, full transparency is a must-have to guarantee fair play and trust in the platform.
Streaming Analytics for Live Online Casino Providers
For the providers of online games, though there are significant overheads that can be avoided compared to a land-based operation, they do have to worry about the quality of the stream. Of course, this is core to the service they are providing; if the stream fails, the user goes. When video buffers at a key moment in an online poker game, for example, a user could question the legitimacy of the game and request a refund. As well as having a direct impact on revenue in terms of returned bets, low Quality of Experience can quickly affect long-term user engagement and retention, as trust in the service is crucial to keeping the bets coming in and its reliability is crucial to keeping players coming back.
Usually, the high-stakes nature of this video delivery chain leads gambling providers to invest heavily in their streaming infrastructure, from quality production studios with professional dealers to all the variables along the delivery chain for their content. All of this investment is designed to provide the best possible Quality of Service. That is to say: a minimum of errors, interruptions, or buffer events caused by the delivery chain of the content to the user.
Considering the extremely high potential for revenue generation when this video is correctly delivered, this investment should be easily justifiable. But, as it is not cheap, it also means providers need to know exactly how this infrastructure is performing. As well as being able to quickly identify and resolve any problem they encounter in the delivery chain, they also need to be able to measure the results of their investment to optimize the overall ROI of their service.
Key Metrics for Live Casino Providers
Here some of the strategic video analytics metrics that a Live Casino provider cannot afford to go without:
- Bandwidth. One of the key metrics that a Provider needs to take into account is the bandwidth in which their content will be delivered. Depending on an end user’s location, ISP, and device type, the quality of the content a user experiences could vary drastically. Without visibility of the network capacity each user or segment of users has, Providers cannot make decisions based on how to adjust the quality they decide to deliver their video in. Without these metrics, they are going in blind. With them, they can ask – and answer – questions like: What is the maximum quality of video I can deliver while still maintaining the integrity of the stream? And, ultimately, how do I need to structure my architecture to deliver the best possible final service to the user?
- Latency, Bitrate, and Streaming Protocols. The typical example used to explain Latency is through live sports, when an audience of a stream suffering from latency finds out about a goal when their neighbors celebrate it, before it happens on their screen. But in a gambling context, the difference is not just in enjoyment; lag of a few seconds compromises the essence of the game being played, and the impact on revenue is likely to be immediate. By checking their Average Bitrate and comparing it with different streaming protocols (HLS, MPEG, FLV) Providers can choose the best performing protocol to deliver the content with the lowest chance of latency, while ensuring the best quality possible at each moment.
- Errors and Anomalies. All of the above can allow Providers to most effectively manage the users that are going to be affected by a known error. For example, if there is a rush of traffic from a certain location, or there are problems with a specific CDN, or an overloaded server, visibility over where that issue comes from is what allows live casino providers to keep anomalies to a minimum, and act proactively to reduce the amount of affected users. Looking at the amount of Rebuffered Plays (and focusing on those that reach >2%) is a quick way to identify those Plays where QoE was unsatisfactory and to work on improving the gaps in the delivery chain which are most severely affecting quality.
All Bets are On: Analytics for Live Casino Operators
Live Casino operators, evidently, are interested in maximizing the revenue of each game they host on their platform. If the stream is being delivered by a provider, the operator has no direct control over the Quality of Service. However, they are extremely interested in the optimization of their service based on the Quality of Experience that each end user has.
This means they need to have answers to questions like: When are the biggest bets being placed? Which dealer do they like the most? Which game is more popular than another one? Which games are the most popular at a certain time of day? How much time do they spend at each table or game? And of course, any behavioral patterns that can be tracked will be of extreme value for a gambling platform.
Key Metrics for Online Casino Operators
So, for live casino platforms, optimization of player behavior in relation to the stream is the focus. Here are some key metrics that are likely on the dashboard of every successful online gambling provider:
- Exit Before the Video Starts (EBVS). This is an essential metric for measuring user frustration, and is essential to calculate what is an acceptable Join Time for users. An online gambler who wants to join an online blackjack game but leaves before watching a single frame of video should send off alarm bells for live casinos. Such visibility can also guide providers towards optimizing their delivery service based on the effect it will have on revenue.
- Buffer Ratio. The amount of time a stream spends buffering during a user’s total view time. This metric is closely related to user engagement levels — according to data collected on YOUBORA, there is a direct relationship between high Buffer Rates and user abandonment — so it is naturally something that live casino operators are keeping a very close eye on. For more insights on Buffer Ratio and how it affects user engagement, read our recent white paper on Buffering.
- Audience Metrics vs Custom Dimensions. Besides taking measurements to ensure that their service is providing a high Quality of Experience for the users, knowing how their streams are being watched in real time — like the total Plays, Unique Users, and Effective Play Time — and filtering by dimensions like Table ID, Dealer ID, Bet Amount, and more, they can have visibility over their service in a way that allows them to directly act to improve their ROI. Optimizing the experience for online casino-goers is the bottom line for live casino operators. They want to do everything they can to reduce refund request rates, increase play time, and address any error or interruption that could lead to lower engagement rates. If they can do that, the sky’s the limit.
Conclusion: Online Gambling is the Future
Online gambling is becoming ever more normalized, and the demand for faultless live casino experiences will only grow. As the number of streams, views, and bets increases, the ability to deliver an optimized stream — with dependable real-time video analytics — will gain even more importance.
NPAW’s YOUBORA Suite allows online streaming companies to access powerful, real-time analytics, converting otherwise inaccessible raw data into actionable business insights that help them grow. We help both providers and operators to optimize their services and meet the challenges of providing faultless live casino experiences in 2020. For more information, get in touch with an expert, now.