Shaping the narrative: how affiliates are responding to Covid-19

Shaping the narrative: how affiliates are responding to Covid-19

The pandemic has forced a change in priorities for US gambling stakeholders, and Catena’s Michael Daly argues it’s time for corporate citizenship to come to the fore and brand recognition to take a back seat

Published 16th April 2020

Just as the closures of land-based casinos and cancellations of sporting events have instigated dramatic changes in the betting sector, the U.S.’ nascent affiliate market has had to quickly adapt to a new and remarkable environment caused by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, according to Michael Daly, Vice President North America at Catena Media.

As part of the gaming media, affiliates play a crucial role in shaping the narrative around the outbreak. Daly, who has over 15 years’ experience in the industry, says that there are topics where affiliates in their position as a news source can add value to the conversation, but called for care in how and when they add to the coverage.

“While the main media is focused on coronavirus’ impact on a global and national scale, our sites like PlayPennsylvania.com can be helpful reporting on things like the status of benefits for land-based casino workers in the state, or programs available to assist the industry,” he said. “These we think are stories that are credible, engaging and overlooked in many other media sources.”

He also believes it is an affiliate’s responsibility to keep consumers informed in this fast-changing landscape with accurate information. With retail betting locations shut for the foreseeable future, more customers are looking to find out how and where they can bet on sports or gamble online.

“That is our expertise and whether traffic is decreased due to sports events cancelling or increasing due to land-based options being unavailable, our function continues to be to provide the absolute best source of news and information to accurately inform that consumer,” he said.

The Covid-19 outbreak has instigated a well-reported spike in alternative content, from betting on lesser known sports such as table tennis and lower league hockey to events such as e-sports and virtuals. Daly said that based on search volumes, that increased interest has also been reflected among readers.

“Beyond the traditional sports (or non-traditional) we are seeing a rising of interest level, by both consumers and operators, in things like e-sports and virtual sports, both of which were relegated to corners prior,” he said.  “This is great for exposure of these burgeoning industries, both of which I would argue will have a seat at the table in the future world of what we think of as ‘sports.’”

Daly, who joined Catena’s US business in 2018, is now set to speak at the forthcoming ICE North America Digital, which takes place between 11th and 15th May. 

On whether the disruption caused by Covid-19 has impacted development of U.S. state markets, particularly those like Michigan, Tennessee and Colorado that were on the cusp of legalisation, he added: “Priorities for everyone had to shift. The world had to shift. And, thankfully, we all stepped up and focussed on the most important things. 

“These markets will come, some a little later than originally anticipated, but they will come. The world will come blazing back. People will want to try to go back to ‘normal’ and definitely will want sports and sports betting as much as they did before.” 

He is also convinced that in the current state of play, now is the time for corporate citizenship to come to the fore and brand recognition to take a back seat.

“This is the time for companies to step-up and help however they can, regardless of whether they get recognition for it today,” he added. “The media will pick up some on this as will other forms of information sharing (Facebook, Instagram, etc) and brands will be remembered for what they did or did not do.” 

For more information on ICE North America and to register for free click here.

Photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash

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