For a company that has made over 30 acquisitions since 2017, it’s hard not to envision a revolving door full of ex-founders spinning day and night. Not to mention the potential disruption to the integration of these assets if these personalities are not handled as carefully as the businesses themselves. It’s a credit to Better Collective that the exact opposite seems to be true.
No better proof of this well-oiled integration machine in action is provided by Kyriakos Fourniadis, the affiliate’s managing director for South East Europe, the co-founder of Betarades.gr which was acquired by the affiliate giant in 2018. The chances of finding a co-founder of an acquired business still running the brand they started and sold five years ago goes against the grain in the affiliate space, but Fourniadis seems well at ease with his surroundings.
Right on time
“2018 was a big milestone for me,” Fourniadis admits. “In the last five years my role has changed from the owner of Betarades to becoming a managing director of South East Europe at Better Collective, handling mainly Greece, Romania and now Italy.”
“We have almost tripled our revenues and that’s the aim for the end of 2023 compared to 2018”
The sale and shifting role allowed Fourniadis more space in his personal life as well. “Instead of working 14 hours a day, you’re able to cool down and spend more time with the people around you and focus on family.”
It’s also fair to say the acquisition has proved fruitful to the brand and its owner Better Collective in the last five years. “I think that it was good timing for us,” Fourniadis adds. “The business has grown a lot from then to now as we have almost tripled our revenues and that’s the aim for the end of 2023 compared to 2018.”
Fourniadis in his role runs Greece, Romania and Italy as separate teams but there is a strong emphasis on synergy within Better Collective. “For Greece, we have a really big team when it comes to working on social media, especially YouTube, TikTok and Instagram,” he explains. “We also create a lot of podcasts in Romania and we try to replicate things we’ve seen work in Greece across to the other markets.
“Video shorts work really well in Romania but only on Facebook, not so much on YouTube.”
The reason these social strategies differ from market to market? Fourniadis says that it’s down to “a lot of cultural differences in the audience from each market”.
Those Southeast Europe markets are largely dominated by a small group of operators. Stoiximan, Kaizen and Bet365 control nearly 70% of the Greek market and Superbet, Betano and Unibet have around 65% of the share in Romania according to Fourniadis.
Yet, the MD for the regions at Better Collective sees the potential in localised brands and their appeal to the average player. “Such brands having a majority of the markets means that localisation can give you a lot of value and a really good establishment in the market.”
“Of course, having the appropriate product is key and local companies have a better understanding of how the local players will react to a product,” he added. “So they can have more of a tailor-made approach that international operators sometimes struggle to.”
Shifting focus in Greece
The market in Greece is already shifting to casino over sports, as confirmed by the Hellenic Gambling Commission (HGC). The regulator found that in 2022, casino revenue actually overtook that from sports betting in the country by around €700,000 (£601,000/$750,000).
“We launched the casino YouTube channel and saw more than two million impressions just in the first month”
The 15% increase in casino revenue and 7.2% decrease in sports revenue from 2021 to 2022 has led Fourniadis to explore diversifying the content for his brands.
“Betarades is a sports betting tips community, but we are trying to create a lot of casino content,” Fourniadis says. “We now also have a dedicated casino website where we have a really strong YouTube channel uploading shorts with igaming stories.
“We launched the product in March and saw more than two million impressions just in the first month and we have a lot of videos with more than 100,000 views.”
A fine line
When it comes to compliance, content platforms like YouTube have strict guidelines when it comes to gambling promotions and content, usually backed up with steep bans. “What we have seen a lot of times on YouTube with our channel is that you can easily get a strike from the platform even when we’ve not broken any rules due to the content subject,” the MD for Greece, Romania and Italy said.
“If you receive one strike you can’t upload for a month, two you’re out for 90 days and the third kicks you off the platform.”
While Fourniadis knows it may be hard to convince platforms like YouTube to loosen its compliance algorithms, he does wish that the gaming commissions had more dialogue with affiliates.
“I think we should have a closer line to the compliance stuff that’s being introduced all the time from the gaming commissions where we have to implement and act fast on,” he said. “Recently the HGC published a study where it said more than 600,000 people bet at least once in 2022 on unlicensed operators.
“So they should consider some measures in order to avoid this and make players think again before betting on a VPN.”
Evolution not diversion
It’s no secret that it’s Better Collective’s aim to become the world’s largest sports media group. Fourniadis is adamant though that it’s both, not one for the other, as Better Collective COO Christian Kirk Rasmussen also told iGBA.
“People should not be saying that we will not be an affiliate after ten years,” Fourniadis emphasised. “That can’t happen because it’s one of the main pillars of our business, it’s more about how we merge these two and become a bigger group.”
The strategy shift has already had knock-on effects for Fourniadis in his role, most notably in the recruitment of talent and stakeholder processes.
“You have to work with more stakeholders when you’re in the media compared to just affiliation,” he explains. “There’s journalists, athletes, coaches, talent, broadcasting people to consider when you’re creating this kind of content.”
“People should not be saying that we will not be an affiliate after ten years”
“We’ve onboarded a lot of famous journalists and we’d like to increase this media approach in the next few years, having more ambassadors and media on our plate with the new strategy.”
In terms of what’s next for Fourniadis and his teams, they are keeping a closer eye on new regions like Bulgaria and the Balkans that could be set to introduce a licensing system in the future. More immediately his focus is on continuing to create content for the Betarades YouTube channel as they expand to daily shows.
Fourniadis is expanding the quantity from one live show on a Sunday to 36 hours of content each week with daily shows. It’s a move he hopes will make it the “number one YouTube channel in Greece for live broadcasting”.
So much for revolving doors, Fourniadis feels well and truly part of the group leading the sports media revolution at the Copenhagen-based affiliate