Following in the footsteps of other professional sports leagues, the NFL has announced a partnership with Sportradar in order to distribute data for sports betting. The league had a previous relationship with Sportradar in order to distribute play-by-play statistics and player tracking data. But the two sides decided to expand their partnership in order to cover data to be distributed to legal sports betting operations in the United States and elsewhere around the world.
Sportradar added that the NFL will also use its integrity services in order to monitor betting activity on NFL games. NFL Media Executive VP Hans Schroeder said,
“Sportradar has been an excellent partner the last four years and has provided the league, our teams, and media marketplace with innovative data products. We look forward to working with Sportradar to deliver fast, accurate official league data that will innovate and improve experiences for our fans across platforms.”
Despite the league being very slow to embrace the growth of sports betting in the US, it stands to reason that the best football league on the planet actually stands the most to gain from the activity’s proliferation. Meanwhile, the NBA, NHL, and even Major League Baseball have signed numerous agreements with gambling operators and entities since the Supreme Court made it possible for states to legalize sports betting over a year ago.
Sportradar is now the exclusive rights-holder to the NFL’s official data feed, and it may distribute said data to sports betting operators all around the world.
The American Gaming Association released a study that said that the NFL stands to gain an additional $2.33 billion in projected revenue from the increased fan engagement and marketing deals that come with the legalization of sports betting. Major League Baseball ($1.11 billion) is next, followed by the NBA ($580 million) and NHL ($220 million). The NFL’s projected revenue increase is more than double MLB’s and about four times as much as the NBA stands to gain.
The NFL and Sportradar have been in business together since 2015, which was the same year the league became an equity investor in Sportradar’s US operation. Schroeder added,
“It’s a new world and it’s a new day as far as the legalized sports gambling landscape. Our view is, let’s be right. When we actually go to market, we don’t want to worry about being first, we want to be right.”
Neither side commented on the terms of the new agreement. Of course, doing any exclusive rights deal with a league as huge as the NFL isn’t going to be cheap. In 2016, Sportradar forked over $250 million for the rights to distribute NBA data overseas. David Lampitt, Sportradar’s managing director of sports partnerships, stated the obvious by admitting that the new deal with the NFL is one of the biggest in the history of the company.
The new deal also gives Sportradar the exclusive rights to distribute live game video to gambling operators overseas to be displayed next to live betting odds, which is a first for the NFL. Lampitt said,
“The NFL is an iconic global brand and an iconic global sports property. This is a landmark deal for us.”
Sportradar is based in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The NFL purchased a stake in the company three years ago, and three NBA owners (Mark Cuban, Michael Jordan, Ted Leonsis) are also investors. The company was founded back in 2003, and last year, private equity firm TCV and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board purchased a minority stake in Sportradar, which was valued at $2.4 billion.
A major reason for the NFL’s reluctance to embrace sports betting has been the fear that doing so could lead to integrity issues. Sportradar will monitor for sketchy betting activity as a way of identifying possible wrongdoing. Schroeder says the deal with Sportradar will ultimately benefit football fans who use the data for fantasy sports and gambling, among other things. He added,
“Whether the market is big, small, or somewhere in between, that doesn’t matter to us. What matters is making sure that we’re delivering a feed and data that is consistent and best-in-class.”
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