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Tyson Fury, Paul Logan and the Rise of ‘Sportainment’

If you feel like you’ve noticed a lot more sporting events involving YouTube celebrities and other non-professional athletes, you’re not alone. The curious rise of “sportainment” is coinciding with a tidal wave of regulated sports betting to create a whole new, and very popular, segment of sport aimed at drawing in eyeballs, and wagers.

Sportainment, and the whirl of content and hype it carries, are in the spotlight this week (or is it “sportlight”?) as YouTube celebrity turned professional boxer, Jake Paul takes on professional boxer turned reality TV star, Tyson Fury in a pay-per-view boxing match. While the fight may seem like a novelty event to the casual punter, it’s looking more like the future of sports to sports betting giants like Entain.

Entain, whose portfolio of sports betting brands include name brands such as bwin, Coral and Ladbrokes, recently released some eye-popping statistics about the stealth popularity of sportainment on a corporate blog.

According to Entain, the top three fights with highest percentage of new bettors over the past five years have involved Paul. They also point out that more than 25 percent of the customers betting on those fights were new customers. That’s an incredibly important statistic both for operators and casino affiliates. By way of comparison, only two percent of those betting on the recent Chris Eubank Jr vs. Liam Smith fight, involving non-celebrity professional fighters, were new customers.

Dominic Grounsell, Chief Commercial Officer, Entain summed up the rise of sportainment saying, “The way in which fans engage with sport and entertainment is changing, and the interest in creator boxing is one of the trends that sits at the heart of this convergence. We see from our data that these events are injecting new life into the sport, diversifying and bringing in new audiences beyond traditional boxing fans.”