Millions of people now play Soccer Saturday Super 6 in the UK every single week, and it transformed a small bookmaker into an online behemoth worth billions of dollars.
Looking back it is an incredible success story which highlights the power of TV, and also of the cult of personality being aligned to a simple product.
The game, promoted by Sky Sports and driving customers towards Sky Bet, has been perhaps the single biggest change in the betting industry in the last decade. So much so that it has now been successfully copied by FOX Bet in the United States (5 million players and counting).
Most people now know all about Super 6, and the massive prizes it offers (normally £250,000 each weekend but sometimes with a £1million jackpot), but how did it all come about?
Here we look back at how it happened, and why it has been so successful.
What is Super 6?
The brilliance - as with most successful concepts - lies in the simplicity.
All you have to do for each round or game is pick the correct scores for 6 games chosen by Super 6. It’s not easy to win a jackpot, but it is really easy to take part. And, crucially, it is totally free to play.
You just download the Super 6 app/visit the website, register for an account and make your selections. Then just sit back and enjoy the fun.
Most of the games take place on Saturday afternoons, while there are often midweek rounds as well. The odds to win the jackpot prize are pretty challenging, but of course it costs nothing to play. You just need to be over 18 years of age.
How did Super 6 come about?
Back in 2008, Sky Bet was still a relatively small UK online bookmaker, despite its ownership by Sky and its exclusive online partnership with pay TV giant Sky Sports. Super 6 though would change all that.
The idea for the game was one thing, but that alone would not produce the success story which eventually unfolded. The Sky Bet brass - led by Richard Flint and Ben Warn - needed distribution.
Crucially, Flint, Warn and co managed to persuade the Sky Sports brass to include a short segment promoting Super 6 during its popular ‘Soccer Saturday’ show. This was where former soccer stars talked live about what was happening during the 3pm games. The concept had already become a cult thing, and aligning Super 6 with it was the clincher. A marriage made in heaven.
From an initial 5-minute slot, the presence of Super 6 on Soccer Saturday grew gradually as the game itself became a huge deal.
Presenter Jeff Stelling - now a household name in his own right - would open up a massive suitcase full of money (the marketing said it was his, nice touch) at the start of each show. And he would update on whether there were any potential winners during the afternoon.
Why has Super 6 been so successful
So here’s the really really clever bit.
Sky Bet has not made its business huge by attracting high-stakes punters who have millions to bet. It has built a behemoth with a massive volume of small-stakes players.
Those small-stakes players are really playing Super 6 for fun. And when they registered for an account, they were part way to also having a fully-fledged account with Sky Bet. The final step was depositing funds and placing that first bet.
Being able to promote Super 6 selections as a possible bet (at huge odds) once a player had entered, topped off the really smart marketing play and closed the loop. The perfect way to persuade somebody to put their real money down.
It would not be an overstatement to say that Super 6 has been the single biggest factor in Sky Bet’s incredible success in the last decade.
If you want proof of that success, just look at the way the business has grown, developed and subsequently been acquired.
First of all in 2014, venture capital giant CVC paid £800million for a controlling stake in Sky Bet. Then in 2018, betting giant The Stars Group shelled out an eye-popping $4.7billion to acquire it from CVC.
Finally, in April 2020, the enormous Flutter group completed an $11billion merger with The Stars Group - including Sky Bet. Flutter of course already owned another U.S. giant in FanDuel.
Has Super 6 been won?
While it is unbelievably tough to win that jackpot with 6 correct scores from six picks, it has been won multiple times in the decade-plus of the game’s existence.
Super 6 created its first ever millionaire in September 2017 when Grace Berry from Shoreham-on-Sea claimed a £1million jackpot.
Taking Super 6 to America
When the Supreme Court of the United States struck down PASPA in May 2018 and paved the way for legal sports betting on a state-by-state basis, Super 6 was the obvious play for somebody.
No wonder then that FOX Sports (historically in the same ownership as Sky Sports) and The Stars Group (then owner of Sky Bet) would be the players to align and bring it to reality.
The partnership between FOX Sport and The Stars Group was named FOX Bet, and its major Trojan Horse for acquiring new betting customers in the United States was FOX Bet Super 6.
Like the UK game, it generally offers players the chance to forecast the outcome of six matchups, normally in the NFL each Sunday afternoon. There are also sub games for Thursday Night Football, Major League Baseball, The NBA and even The Masked Singer.
Reports suggest players in the United States have now surpassed 5million - it is the biggest free-to-play game around.
FOX Bet continues to look for new wrinkles to attract new players too - even offering a house as the star prize in a random draw for players involved in the 2021 Christmas Day game which centred on the NFL matchup between the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers.
The concept clearly works anywhere - Jeff Stelling’s cash in the UK is Terry Bradshaw’s in the U.S. - plug and play. It is a success story which is set to grow and grow in the coming years.