Per a press release issued on August 12, the NFL tabbed live sports data analytics service Sportradar AG – which bills itself as the “world’s largest provider of sports data and content,” – as its exclusive distributor of official league data.
That arrangement, of which financial terms have yet to be made public, entails Sportradar delivering proprietary NFL data to sportsbook operators in regulated markets both in the U.S. and internationally.
Under a non-gambling data-sharing deal inked in 2015, the NFL has provided Sportradar with exclusive access to the league’s official play-by-play stats and information, along with Next Gen Stats (NGS) developed by the NFL as a proprietary product. In turn, Sportradar created a class-leading analytics platform known as Radar360 which the NFL, its franchises, and associated media outlets currently utilize.
The 2015 deal will remain intact, while Sportradar gets the go-ahead to use Radar360 to furnish bookmakers with play-by-play and NGS data.
In the aforementioned press release, Sportradar’s chief executive officer Carsten Koerl referred to the newly minted data-sharing agreement as a milestone moment for the company:
“We are thrilled to become the NFL’s exclusive data distribution partner, undoubtedly one of the most important partnerships in Sportradar’s history.
We are confident we will maximize our strong partnership with the NFL and deliver ground-breaking products across the gaming, fantasy and the media worlds.
As the unequivocal global leader in sports data, we are ideally positioned to support the NFL in providing innovative products to enhance the way fans experience the game and help maintain the continued integrity of the NFL competition.”
In the league’s official statement, Hans Schroeder – who serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer of NFL Media – pointed to the NFL’s familiarity with Sportradar as a prime reason to expand the existing partnership:
“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.”
While the terms of this latest deal haven’t been released, Sportradar’s six-year data sharing union signed with the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 2016 was valued at $250 million. Given the “multiyear” nature of the NFL contract, and its scope encompassing both domestic and international sportsbooks, financial industry news outlet Forbes reports that it’s “safe to assume” that the latest move is worth more to both entities.
David Lampitt – managing director of sports partnerships for Sportradar – confirmed as much in comments made to Bloomberg when he revealed that the NFL deal was “one of the biggest in company history.”
The NFL traditionally opposed legal sports betting and all forms of gambling generated by its games, despite the league’s status as the clear favorite among recreational bettors and professional handicappers alike. Per estimates from the American Gaming Association (AGA), American football fans placed $6 billion worth of bets wagering on the Super Bowl last year alone with 1.8 million bettors reporting they planned to book action via unregulated “bookies.”
In 2017, when the NFL approved the Oakland Raiders relocation to Las Vegas, league commissioner Roger Goodell voiced his strident opposition to legal sports betting:
“We still strongly oppose legalized gambling. We will not compromise on the integrity of our game.”
When voters and lawmakers in New Jersey repeatedly attempted to legalize and regulate sports wagering in 2012, the NFL joined the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the NBA to sue the Garden State.
The resulting case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where a 6-3 ruling in favor of New Jersey issued in May of 2018 repealed the federal ban on sportsbooks outside of Nevada previously in place since 1992. Since then, New Jersey and eight other states have launched legal sports betting industries, while eight more states and Washington D.C. have new laws on the books awaiting implementation.
With the NBA, MLB, and NHL all having come to terms on similar data-sharing deals in the interim, the NFL has apparently seen the light based on Schroeder’s statement:
“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.”