Tuesday, January 25 2022

European soccer governing body UEFA has signed its first exclusive gambling data deal, a three-year partnership with Sportradar.

Under the deal, Sportradar will collect and distribute data from some of the biggest club and national team events in soccer. It follows a competitive tender process that UEFA, an acronym for the Union of European Football Associations, launched earlier this year.

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UEFA is just the latest major sports property to seek an exclusive sports data deal, an opportunity to monetize the growing global interest in legal gambling on its matches. UEFA and Sportradar will work together to build a feed that is faster, more reliable and more robust than any unofficial feed available, which they hope will compel operators to pay up for access to it.

The Swiss-based company (NASDAQ: SRAD) also sees strategic advantages beyond just gambling, according to CEO Carsten Koerl, who declined to comment on the terms of the deal.

“We understand how to profile a digital sports fan. We understand how to connect that with merchandising and sponsorships,” Koerl said in an interview. “This lets the company get closer to UEFA, and better understand what the partner is looking for.”

The package covers 1,550 matches over those three years. It includes the Champions League, the most prominent continental club competition in the world, plus events like the 2022 women’s Euro tournament and the men’s event in 2024. Soccer is the most-bet sport in the world, significantly more than the NFL, and UEFA matches account for more than 15% of the global soccer betting turnover, according to Sportradar.

This agreement is the latest in a new approach to sports betting from UEFA, which is starting to examine more commercial opportunities within gaming. In September, the group signed a Europa League partnership with bwin, making the Entain-owned operator its first official gambling partner for one of its events.

“The combination of the two partnerships allows UEFA to engage more openly with the sports betting sector, giving greater access to market intelligence and support from both a sports integrity and a commercial perspective,” UEFA marketing director Guy-Laurent Epstein said in a statement.

Sportradar has been locked in litigation since March 2020 over competitor Genius Sports’ exclusive data rights in U.K. club football. Sportradar has argued that the industry needs a “competitive marketplace in which there is a genuine choice between suppliers,” and that the opposite is harmful for bookmakers and bettors. Koerl said this deal varied from that because all the matches in this package are broadcast (unlike that U.K. deal), which means there’s an opportunity for others to structure their own feeds.

“It is possible to collect match data and information for all these competitions,” he said. “That is not possible if you go to the second or third division in Ireland.”

Sportradar went public in the U.S. earlier this year, and currently has a market cap of about $6.18 billion. The company’s investors include the NFL, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly, and a trio of NBA owners—Michael Jordan, Mark Cuban, and Ted Leonsis’ Revolution Growth.

The deal adds to Sportradar’s portfolio of gambling data deals, which includes the NHL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR and the ITF. In soccer it also has partnerships with the continental confederations in Asia and South America.

Sportradar and UEFA have worked for more than a decade on integrity monitoring. That will continue under this deal. There’s also a wider UEFA tender out for media rights, which Koerl said might open opportunities for his company.

“This deal here brings us into a good situation where we can discuss on a frequent basis with UEFA what kinds of technical abilities we have,” he said, “and how we can scale this for their benefit to reach a new audience.”

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