Liga Stavok CEO Yury Krasovskiy speaks with SBC Leaders about its historic agreement with the National Hockey League and why this will help bring the sport ‘into the hearts and minds of the fans’.
SBC: Can you tell us about the nature of collaboration between Liga Stavok and the NHL?
YK: We have signed an agreement that is unparalleled not just in our industry, but for the entire global sports sponsorship market. The NHL has a Russian sponsor for the first time. Liga Stavok became the NHL’s official bookmaker in Russia and the CIS countries, with the deal starting at the beginning of the 2021 season. This one-of-a-kind three-year deal with a Russian betting company is the first of its kind in NHL and North American sports history.
SBC: What are your expectations from this agreement?
YK: We have an integral metric system that covers fundamental metrics such as enhancing the NHL’s awareness through the combination with Liga Stavok. We intend to expand it in the future through a variety of events and promotional campaigns.
The second metric is of course the immediate effect on business. More consumers equals more bets. A rise in TV viewership is the third basic metric. We can influence this in some indirect ways. The overall number of consumers we have in the hockey cluster is the fourth metric.
SBC: What benefits will the NHL partnership bring to efforts to popularise hockey amongst sports bettors?
YK: Ice hockey has already gained widespread popularity among our customers. The activities planned for the Russian-speaking audience as part of the NHL agreement will make watching games more entertaining and exciting. Consequently, they will bring even more attention to world hockey.
Currently, Russian and international hockey bets are about 50/50 split. During the regular season, more bets are put on Russian hockey, but once the Stanley Cup begins, the focus shifts to the NHL. Overseas hockey, on the other hand, has one important advantage: there are night-time broadcasts.
Indeed, there is no reason to compete with other sports during these hours, as the NHL receives virtually all bets. And with the introduction of our activities, this amount is expected to grow even more.
SBC: Liga Stavok stated when the agreement with the NHL was signed that it would invest significant funds in the development of hockey both in Russia and around the world. Could you elaborate on that? What can we anticipate?
YK: Well, I am not sure I can tell you the exact numbers right now as they are confidential. Let me point out by saying that Liga Stavok has not just sponsored Russian ice hockey for many years, but has taken an active part in fostering its growth and making it increasingly popular. Our goal is to bring hockey back into the minds and hearts of the fans, and we are doing a great job there.
We are now part of the global movement and expect amazing things to happen! To do this, we will draw on all of our previous experience and knowledge. It feels so pleasant and honourable to be a stakeholder in this process.
The NHL puts its Russian viewership at 9.5 million people; Russian users are among the most active users on social media outside of North America. Our partnership will help the NHL expand more actively its fan pool among Russian-speaking audiences.
There are a large number of Russian players in the NHL. No one can deny that some of our biggest names play there. That is why our collaboration with the NHL is just another way for us to assist Russian hockey. Liga Stavok is always cheering for our players! We support the Russian national team when they compete in World Championships and Olympics. So now we have the chance to cheer them on as they play for their NHL clubs, where they showcase the greatest level of Russian hockey school, hone their skills, and rejoin the national team as stronger players.
There are also plans in the works to encourage Russian children’s and youth hockey with the help of our NHL players. Master classes and charity training camps come to mind. I believe the guys will back them up since they have been through it all and understand how vital it is for a young child to interact with a celebrity.
SBC: What methods do you have in mind for reaching NHL fans in Russia with your promotional efforts?
YK: Everything has gone digital, and we will, of course, communicate primarily through digital channels, such as our website and social media. We have multiple joint activations planned for hockey fans, including prediction contests, fantasy hockey, and more. Plans exist to integrate a full-fledged Liga Betting line on the NHL’s website and mobile app.
The upcoming season will see for the first time the use of virtual boards for broadcasting to Russia. During the Stanley Cup Playoffs broadcasts, they will have Liga Stavok advertising on them. In addition, the company will be able to combine club emblems and official NHL symbols in its creative and promotional activities.
A colourful, lively image is vital for today’s viewers, with tie-ins, highlights, graphics, and anything else that mixes sports and visual components. In this regard, the NHL performs at an exceptionally high level. This type of content will appeal to Russian viewers.
Besides, we intend to develop a lot of high-quality materials about Russians in the NHL, including behind-the-scenes and off-ice information. It should be a very interesting and educational experience!
SBC: How will this help foster the Liga Stavok brand’s on the global scale?
YK: Going global is part of Liga Stavok’s business strategy! We have already taken the first step by becoming a five-year sponsor of the World Hockey Championship this season. As a team, we started working together in May in Riga, where the FIFA World Cup 2021 was a huge success despite all the existing restrictions.
I would like to mention that Liga Stavok is also collaborating with one of the NHL’s brightest and most promising players. Kirill Kaprizov was appointed as our Ambassador this year. The NHL agreement is another historic milestone in this regard to indicate that we will keep doing what we are doing.
We are thankful to our partners for recognition of our business potential and reputation as Russia’s leading sports bookmaker. This is a huge responsibility for us – to expand our involvement in the development of hockey at a global level.