NFL Makes Its First Move into Betting, Gives Sportradar Exclusive Data Rights
Kirby Lee, USA Today Sports.
The NFL on Monday made its first substantive move into the sports betting space, announcing the expansion of its game data deal with Sportradar to include distribution of live data to sports betting operators.
The league is the last of the four major American sports to sell licenses to sportsbooks for live data, but it now can do so after assigning the official rights to Sportradar, which has data distribution rights from Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the NBA.
Terms were not disclosed, but in a statement, Sportradar said it was one of the company’s largest global media rights agreements.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told The Action Network that, unlike other leagues, the NFL will not be actively involved as Sportradar sells the data to individual sportsbooks.
The new agreement includes Sportradar’s integrity services, which seeks to monitor betting irregularities. The deal also gives Sportradar the right to distribute live audio-visual game feeds to sportsbooks in some international markets.
Sportradar, which has its hands in roughly 400,000 games in 60 sports per year, has been the exclusive distributor of the NFL’s play-by-play data since 2015 and has provided NFL teams with a customizable data system called radar360 to give them the ability to crunch their own numbers since 2016.
There’s still a debate as to whether sportsbooks need to pay the extra price for the official data provider versus using a third party. The main pitch is that the official feed is faster, which is important for play-by-play and live betting. The case might be harder to make for the NFL, which is the slowest, on average, in between plays.
MGM has bought the official data from leagues in the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS. Others aren’t as convinced, including William Hill, which runs more sportsbooks in the U.S. than any other operator. William Hill did strike a deal with the NHL, but has remained steadfast that it would not pay extra for official data.
The NFL still has some more selling to do. The league is the only one out of the four major American sports to not have sold a sports betting sponsorship deal. Its deal with Caesars, announced in January, is a casino deal and does not include sports betting.