Interview with Reality Rob
Reality TV is one of the fastest growing betting markets with more and more people backing their favourites to win the likes of the X-Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and 'I'm a Celebrity' programmes.
Betting on these shows adds to the enjoyment and at William Hill we bet in-play meaning you can watch the performers live on a Saturday night and place your bet instantly based on their performances and the judges comments.
It's not as easy as picking the best singer or dancer though, as the recent shows have proved with Wagner in the X-Factor and Ann Widdecombe in Strictly Come Dancing surviving elimination to the dismay of the judges.
We caught up with our TV and Novelties trader/expert Rob Dixon for his take on the recent events, discussing some of the difficulties of setting the odds for these markets and to get some tips for the upcoming series of 'I'm a Celebrity.....Get me out of here!' which gets underway on Sunday at 9pm.
What do you think of the current controversy regarding Wagner/Ann Widdecombe surviving elimination?
Rob: I think its good for both shows, it keeps them both in the newspapers and the public domain. By allowing the public to vote it obviously keeps these acts in the show as if it was up to the judges the acts would have gone in the first two weeks.
Do you think a novelty act such as Wagner could ever actually win the show?
I think there is a lot more chance of Ann winning Strictly than there is of Wagner winning X-Factor. I would like to believe though that both acts will be eliminated sooner rather than later because why we like to see acts like this survive a few weeks, it demeans the competition if one of them goes on to win it.
How hard is it to price markets and make predictions when you've got to take into consideration the public vote/opinion versus talent?
It is tough at the moment, especially for X-Factor because you know if Wagner is in a sing off then it's a very short price he will be eliminated. We have tended to be bottom price on him for both of the eliminations but on the Sunday night he is always our worst result, so far we have been lucky that he has survived but we know that won't last forever, we are just hoping to win enough money previously to account for the loss when he goes!
When do you think the show becomes a real talent contest?
Both shows for me tend to become a real talent contest when all the "novelty" acts have gone, normally when they get down to the final 4 or 5 in the competition.
Do you get any advanced information from the show ahead of the general public i.e. whether it will be a double eviction etc?
We hear quite a lot of rumours during the week, mostly from reality TV forums etc, we can find out about song choices for X-Factor and what dances the contestants are performing in Strictly. Most of the information is available to the general public vote so the people who do the hardest digging can always find information to beat the bookies!
How much easier would it be to price up if the amount of votes each act received each week were made public?
It would be a lot easier, you have to do a lot of guesswork on how popular each contestant is, I tend to price them up based on whether they were in the bottom 2 the previous week, also how they came across on stage and the judges comments. I think if the votes were made public the prices would probably look a lot different each week to what we put on site.
Do you think if the amount of votes an act got each week was made public it would increase or decrease turnover on eliminations the following week?
Im not sure it would make a lot of difference to turnover, the turnover for this year's X-Factor eliminations is almost double the turnover we took on a weekly basis last year, both pre-match and our in-play offering which I'm personally delighted about. The great thing is that we would probably still have quite an even spread of bets each week due to people backing their own personal favourites each week to go / survive.
What has been the worst ever reality TV result for the bookmakers and the best?
The worst I have been involved in was actually my first Big Brother as a compiler which was Pete Bennett winning Big Brother 7. I was really excited about compiling it as I had always been a fan of the show. Unfortunately he was the favourite from the first night to the last and none of the evictions went our way either and we ended up losing over £40,000, not the greatest day ever! My best result was Rachel Rice winning Big Brother 9, I backed her on the first night and we kept her short all the way through the show and ended up winning over £50,000 at the end of the series and I personally had a decent winner as well!
What has been the longest shot winner ever on a 'specials' market?
We've had a few long shots, Rachel Rice for Big Brother was 25/1 most of the final week, similar to Ulrika Jonsson winning Celebrity Big Brother a couple of years ago, that's always satisfying when they come in. The shortest price loser I remember was Jedward in the X-Factor elimination sing off last year against Lucie Jones. We were 1/16 for them to go that night and it went to deadlock and the terrible twosome survived, much to our delight.
How much would it cost William Hill if the unthinkable happened and Wagner and Ann Widdicombe won the X Factor and Strictly?
At the moment, it's not a bad result, both are decent winners in the book for their respective events, however the enhanced double which we priced up at the beginning at 1000/1 is quite a loser at the moment, I'm not panicing yet though.
Any tips for the upcoming 'I'm a celebrity' show?
I know it's a bit of a boring tip but I've backed Stacey Solomon to win, she fits all the criteria as a reality winner, she has a massive fan base from X-Factor which is on at the same time of the year, has done shows for ITV before and can be quite easily marketable in the same way Gino D'Acampo was last year. Add in the fact, she seems a quite likeable character and there is not much competition to her currently then I think she's a very strong favourite.
The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing continue this Saturday. Bet In-Play at William Hill.
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@Reality_Rob Rob Dixon