Savage Sports Helps Non-Sports Outlets Monetize Sports Betting and Gaming –

Most sports media companies have set up sports betting affiliate programs (some have opted for brand partnerships instead). But there is a myriad of digital media content outside of sports that has yet to tap into the potentially lucrative revenue stream.

Savage Sports — the sports betting and online gambling media arm of Savage Ventures, a Nashville-based venture capital/operator hybrid — is working to change that. With available capital and performance marketing expertise, the division works to help sports-agnostic digital media companies earn affiliate commissions for sports betting and online gaming. David VanEgmond (CEO, Bettor Capital) believes the company’s pursuit of this market makes sense.

“Sports betting represents the largest emerging category for monetization in digital media,” he said, adding that the company’s “track record” (see: More than $50 million in revenue for its sports betting partners) suggests that it will be able to build robust affiliate programs for sports-related digital media properties.

The attitude of JWS: Non-sports media companies have been hesitant to pursue the possibility of sports betting affiliates because, as Zac Litwack (co-founder of Savage Ventures) explained, the costs and difficulties involved in getting started, even when the outlet has the financial resources , could be a barrier. “[These companies lack] the knowledge, means and time to be admitted in all states to establish relationships [and negotiate favorable deals] with the sportsbook and then start running promotions.”

Savage Sports has positioned itself as the optimized solution for digital media companies looking to enter the growing category of sports betting and online gaming. It holds the marketing licenses necessary to collect commissions in any legal North American market, has “connections [in place] with all the major sportsbooks,” and runs a team of “whitelisted performance marketers and advertising accounts that power all paid media across all of our media brands,” Litwack said. The conglomerate has a distribution network of 33 million fans.

About 60% of Savage Sports’ sports betting and online gambling affiliate business comes from paid media through its collection of mostly non-sports-related assets. (The company plans to add a few other endemic sports media brands as well.) The remaining 40% or so is generated organically — “email, [SEO] and posting on our social channels,” Litwack explained.

The company is working to tip the balance toward organically generated affiliate revenue, which of course has much higher margins. “It’s part of the strategy [adding] Influencers and other media companies [to the portfolio] so that we are not dependent on anyone [outside] channel,” Litwack said. Savage Sports recently announced the addition of Moonshot, a sports betting micro-influencer with a Discord channel of approximately 4,000 paying members and 30,000 followers on Twitter, to its burgeoning network.

While most of Moonshot’s subscribers are likely existing customers of multiple sportsbooks, Litwack believes that engaged audience will eat up any ancillary products Savage offers through its sportsbook partners (think: online casino, DFS). Look to Savage Sports to introduce Moonshot-branded content and an extensive line of merchandise for the brand. “What you can achieve with a basic group of fans is magical when you think about expanding the product offering and [pulling other] Monetization levers,” Litwack said.

Litwack, who has a background in marketing, founded Savage Ventures in late 2019 with Sam Savage, who founded and sold to CBS Interactive Pop Culture Media and was CRO and formerly a partner at 247 Sports. Their thesis is that they could invest in and scale multiple digital media companies at once. Her first purchase was US songwriter, a music media publication.

A June 2020 joint venture with Overhaul the cover, Clay Travis’ sports media brand, opened its eyes to a new revenue stream and set the wheels in motion to create Savage Sports. “That [deal] got us into the sports betting market,” said Litwack. Over the next year, the duo took an audience that was mostly offline (remember Travis had a national radio show) and built a digital media business around it. Sports betting affiliate earnings were the main source of income.

In May 2021, Travis and Savage were sold goal kick to Fox Corporation. The Savage team believes that with the lessons learned they can repeat the success. “We already created the playbook to help [other media brands] Make money,” Litwack said.

Starting with those within the existing portfolio, Savage Sports used the 2021 football season to prove “it can market [sports betting products and offers] through a non-sports asset,” Litwack said. The company owns the brands Grandex Media (Total frat move, total sorority move) and a variety of other “apps, tools and social networks [it has] bought on the side.” Savage recently announced that it has agreed to acquire Vig It, a sports betting social networking application with 20,000 daily active users.

Savage Ventures is a small VC fund backed by Litwack and Savage. The average check size is about $1 million. While that may not sound like a lot for a company that buys media assets, Litwack explained that it doesn’t sound like big outlets worth hundreds of millions or billions of dollars (see: the goal kick sale) and claimed, “Because of our skills, we can build a hundred million dollar company with a few dollars.”

There are opportunities for founders who don’t want to drop out to continue to join Savage Sports. The company is open to a JV (see: Moonshot deal). “We can give them a huge revenue stream, split the revenue, and then also own a stake in the company,” Litwack said.

Since Savage Sports outlets don’t necessarily reach the traditional sportsbook, sports bettors may need to educate these users a little more than they are used to. But Litwack said, “Customer lifetime value might still be there. And as online poker and casino expand, [companies] will of course be able to resell those customers.”

For now, at least for Savage Sports, it doesn’t matter if the customer’s LTV is comparable to that of a typical sports fan. The media company works largely on a cost-per-acquisition model. If the Savage client gains a reputation for being looser, it could hurt the company’s negotiated CPAs across the board. But it’s premature to conclude that Savage’s non-sports offerings will uncover more casual bettors, and anyway, the company’s long-term success hinges on its ability to engage and retain audiences rather than the average customer LTV.

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