November 11, 2011
An interesting development came out Thursday with the news that sports gaming company Bodog had signed a three-year partnership with the CFL as the league's exclusive free-to-play sports gaming and poker partner. Corporate sponsorship revenue is becoming a more and more critical part of sports' leagues success, and national deals like these are key to individual teams' success too. For example, the Edmonton Eskimos' financials showed that they got $1,960,735 from "CFL income" (TV and national sponsorship revenues) last season, and it's likely that most teams hauled in similar amounts. National partnerships are huge for the league and its teams, obviously, but they can be important for the brands involved too, and brands' interest can reveal a lot about where the CFL's at. To find out what made the league an appealing partner for Bodog, I spoke to Bodog global public relations director Ed Pownall (seen above) via e-mail.
Pownall said the CFL's strongly Canadian identity made it a great fit for Bodog.
"We feel that if we want people to know the brand in Canada then we should do something Canadian," he said. "Obvious, huh? But we think it's important to see Canada as its own entity, especially in sports terms, where Canada and their North American neighbour have very different tastes. Sure, there is an audience for NFL in the same way there is an audience for Spanish soccer in the UK, but Canada very much has its own sporting identity and this is therefore a natural extension of that thought process."
Pownall said they've already seen substantial interest in the free-to-play CFL games on Bodog's site, but they're expecting to expand that audience further with this deal and some promotions they're running, including using an all-expense paid trip for four to the Grey Cup as the grand prize in their season-long CFL Parlay Pick'Em Contest.
"The CFL game lends itself very naturally to fantasy free-to-play games given the many facets of the sport, and there can be no doubt that CFL is gaining in popularity every year," Pownall said.
Bodog currently offers plenty of different free-to-play CFL options, including picking games against the spread, picking the over or under and parlaying picks. Pownall said the growing interest in their CFL games motivated them to get this deal done, and they're expecting to do even more on the CFL front during the length of this agreement.
"Given the interest this year, we will certainly look to offer bigger and more regular prizes to our fantasy game winners," Pownall said. "There is virtually no competition for fantasy games in CFL, so we would hope we can 'own' that space and then look to expand it. After all, it's free, so what's not to like?!"
Pownall said he thinks the deal will benefit both the CFL and Bodog, increasing the profile of both.
"I would expect we can help each other build the profile of the sport over the coming years."