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Volume 20 No. 42
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Chris Bettin

Photo by: MLS

In the competition for attention and revenue in pro sports, Major League Soccer is trying to think differently. That’s why an innovator like Chris Bettin is vital to MLS as it strives to become one of the top sports leagues in the U.S. and one of the top soccer leagues in the world.

In just over three years at MLS, Bettin, 33, has made his mark running the product development and club services teams of MLS Digital.

While overseeing the league’s push beyond Web into social media and mobile, he is launching its new second-screen experience, Golazo, which is now in beta. Golazo leverages new technologies such as Web sockets and HTML5 to engage fans with real-time content during matches. MLS views Golazo as a digital leader in sports, citing its integration of statistics, commentary, social media comments, video highlights and photos.

Bettin is also creating new experiences in the fantasy sports realm for soccer, like 3 Goal Monte, where fans predict three players who will score a goal during a week.

“We want to put an emphasis on contact — how fans are able to connect with each other through MLS and how the league can connect with fans and win new ones,” he said.

Bettin, who earned his MBA in technology management from the University of Washington, oversees eight software developers at MLS. His objectives over the next year are straightforward.

“We want to build great products where people want to talk to other people,” he said. “We need to drive better television ratings because I’m convinced that the potential audience is there. And right in our wheelhouse at MLS Digital is statistics: How do we take soccer to the next level with statistics?”

MLS is counting on Bettin to come up with the answers.

— Christopher Botta
Innovation you’re most proud of: Our latest product, code-named
Golazo, is our next-generation co-viewing match experience. We are using some great new technologies to provide real-time access to statistics, social feeds, photos and videos.
Last innovation that made you say, “Wow!”: I think Kickstarter is an amazing innovation. It gives entrepreneurs the ability to turn ideas into reality, and gives everyone the opportunity to be a part of the next big idea. It is unlocking a new investor community.
It may sound crazy now, but soon we’ll be able to …: Automatically personalize our surroundings through bio data, environmental sensors, and big data. It would be great if my apartment could figure out my current location, body temperature and automatically adjust the temperature before I arrived home. Another example: My TV would know that I was interested in MLS through a recent retweet and then suggest I change the channel to watch it live.
What brings out your creativity?: I find a lot of inspiration while traveling. When I’m traveling I stumble upon new ideas and challenges that don’t jump out at you every day. It’s a combination of new places, experiences, needs and people. I get to see things from a different perspective than when I’m sitting in the office.