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NFL Signs Massive Data Rights Deal With Genius Sports

James Murphy
by in NFL on
  • The National Football League (NFL) has agreed to a multi-year data rights deal with London based Genius Sports.
  • The deal includes the league taking a small equity stake in Genius Sports.
  • The NFL’s previous rights deal was with Sportradar.

After abandoning nonsense such as ‘integrity fees’, the National Football League (NFL) has quickly figured out how to extract as much money as possible out of the sports betting industry. You’ll soon see the league making deals with ‘Authorized Sports Betting Providers’ but they’ve already figured out how to clean up and they’re just getting started.

The NFL’s current meal ticket? Data rights…er….excuse me…’Next Gen Stats’ whatever that is. Most of what you’ll see as an ‘end user’ is real time play by play and statistical information but this is different because it’s *official*. The NFL has just signed a multi-year data rights deal with London based Genius Sports, replacing the league’s previous data disseminator Sportradar. The league licenses their data to Genius Sports who will provide the information to media outlets and sportsbooks both domestically and internationally.

Data rights are big money and it became apparent that the NFL would clean up when the National Hockey League was able to command in excess of $25 million USD per year for their data to be distributed by Sportradar. As for the NFL’s deal with Genius Sports? Here’s how CNBC reported the financial terms:

Terms were not provided, but an individual familiar with the pact told CNBC it’s a four-year cash and equity agreement with options. The deal could be valued at $1 billion over the life of the contract if additional years are picked up. Last month, CNBC reported the NFL was in negotiations for the rights and sought $100 million per year.

So how clever is the NFL? They took a small equity stake in Genius Sports as part of the deal. They also have a small equity stake in Sportradar meaning that they’ve got a ‘piece’ of the two largest providers of sports betting data to the US market. Kevin LaForce, the NFL’s Senior VP for Media Strategy and Business Development says it’s just one piece of a comphrenshive plan for the league to extract as much revenue as possible from sports betting:

“This is just one piece of a multi-faceted strategy around sports betting. It showed up in our media conversations and it’s going to show up in our sponsorship conversations. It’s increasingly a growing and comprehensive plan. This is a key component of it.”

Here’s what the press release from Genius Sports announcing the deal had to say:

The strategic partnership is an important element to the League’s broader approach to legalized sports betting.  Together, NFL and Genius will drive the continued innovation of the NFL’s data feeds to provide fans with accurate, fast, and robust statistics and content. As the NFL continues to engage fans through legalized sports betting, the use of licensed official League data ensures that fans everywhere have the best user experience along with consumer protections.  Genius will also have the right to distribute live audio-visual (AV) game feeds to sportsbooks in international markets.

Kevin LaForce, Senior Vice President, Media Strategy and Business Development for the NFL, once again:

“We’re excited to welcome Genius Sports to the NFL family. We look forward to working with Genius as we continue to innovate and enhance NFL content on media and betting platforms.”

Mark Locke, CEO of Genius Sports, is no doubt thrilled to partner with the NFL:

“Genius is proud and delighted to partner exclusively with the NFL to establish a new era of digital fan engagement for professional sports leagues everywhere. Our technology leads the world in the convergence of official data, betting, streaming, and digital media and we are excited to bring our unique capabilities to the world’s preeminent sports league.”

The NFL continues to give a bit of lip service to ‘the integrity of the game’–the nonexistent problem that they trumped up to keep the US in the sports betting dark ages for decades:

Integrity of the game is at the center of all the NFL’s legalized sports betting ventures, and Genius will support the NFL’s efforts through comprehensive integrity services to monitor betting across all NFL games (preseason, regular season, and postseason) and tentpole events. The NFL and its Clubs will also have access to Genius’ integrity education programs to ensure the continuation of the NFL’s high standard for integrity.

The trick now is for the NFL and Genius Sports to make their ‘official’ data feed such a compelling service that sportsbooks and media outlets are willing to pay a premium for it over ‘non-official’ feeds compiled from secondary sources.

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