- The XFL has announced Genius Sports as the league’s ‘Official Data Distribution Provider’.
- Genius Sports was also named the upstart football league’s ‘Official Free-to-Play Provider.’
- The XFL is now owned by a group that includes Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and film producer Dany Garcia.
The XFL is back for their third swing at becoming a viable Spring league for US football fans. The original XFL aka the ‘Xtreme Football League’ launched in 2001, the brainchild of WWE founder Vince McMahon. It lasted one season before Vinny Mac threw in the towel. The league was relaunched in 2020 and was beginning to find some traction before it fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. It filed for bankruptcy in April 2020. In August, Dwayne Johnson and film producer/business partner/ex-wife Dany Johnson led an investment group that bought the XFL for $15 million USD. The league returned to play on February 18, 2023. Week 2 is underway at this writing and while it’s too soon to assess the longterm viability of the XFL the early returns are at least somewhat encouraging.
One way that the XFL could help establish itself among their target audience is to find a niche audience among sports bettors. The CFL has gained a devoted following among US players despite non-existent coverage in the ‘lower 48’. The XFL has the potential to do much better than that. They took a solid step in that direction by signing a deal with Genius Sports as the ‘Official Betting Data Distribution Partner and Free-to-Play Provider’ of the XFL. Here’s a rundown of what that entails from the press release announcing the deal:
Genius Sports has been granted the exclusive rights to distribute official data from every XFL game to its global network of media and betting partners. Sportsbooks will be provided with the fastest, most accurate feed of XFL data, while brands and advertisers will be able to access official XFL data through the Genius Marketing Suite, an all-in-one fan engagement platform.
To help the XFL expand its digital audience and drive fan engagement levels, Genius Sports has built a new “XFL Pick‘Em” game. This free-to-play game asks fans to predict the outcome of upcoming XFL matchups, including various proposition bets related to games, players, and teams. To gamify the experience, fans are asked to bet with football tokens, creating parlays to increase their potential score and improve their ranking on the league-wide leaderboard. Weekly winners will be eligible for a variety of prizes, including XFL Shop gift cards, and a grand prize winner will receive a trip for two to the 2023 XFL Championship Game.
I’d suggest that you might want to play a drinking game where you take a shot any time the term ‘fan engagement’ comes up in the press release but you’d all be passed out cold by the end of this article. The deal is termed an ‘Official Data Distribution and Fan Engagement Partnership’ in the headline so you’d be a couple of shots in well before you get to the press release quotes. We’ll start with Wendy Bass, XFL Chief Business & Legal Officer:
“We continue to align ourselves with the best partners in the business to drive innovation and develop new ways to immerse our fans into the action of the game. Genius is a leader in exploring the new frontier of next generation fan engagement. By working with Genius, we can leverage their expertise across technology and data management to make the XFL a more compelling and dynamic viewing experience for the benefit of fans, partners, and stakeholders.”
Sean Conroy, Executive Vice President at Genius Sports, offered a short quote with plenty of ‘fan interaction’:
“For every sports league, an official data strategy that drives both new revenues and fan engagement levels is vitally important. We’re thrilled to partner with the XFL, connecting their games with the media and betting sectors while creating meaningful fan interactions through the bespoke XFL Pick‘Em solution.”
I really hope that one day the US sports betting ecosystem grows up enough that they can just say that a) people enjoy betting on sports and b) it’s another solid revenue stream for sports leagues. Anyway, we’re of the opinion that more betting interests on the board the better. Here’s to the success of the XFL. For more information, visit XFL.com and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.