The US sets “new benchmark” for extracting value from sports betting

As the post-PASPA revolution rolls on, the US will “set a new benchmark” for how sports leagues and rights holders try to extract value from its nascent sports betting market.

That was a prediction made by David Lampitt, Managing Director of Group Operations at Sportradar, as part of last month’s Betting on Football conference.

Speaking on the ‘Data – do you get what you pay for?’ panel, he said that while attempts by rights holders around the world to implement the mandatory use of official data have “generally been unsuccessful”, the US has seen innovation on a commercial level – particularly between operators and data providers.

“Sports are, inevitably, trying to find new and innovative ways to get involved in the value chain of data, and to somehow monetise this to get paid as much as they possibly can for usage of that data,” he explained.

“The challenge is achieving this without any established legal rights. There is no IP right for sports data, so sports must find different means to achieve it.

“There have been a number of attempts by right holders around the world to make it a legal requirement, to make it mandatory to use official data. Generally speaking, these attempts haven’t been successful so far.

“What we’re now seeing is some innovation in terms of how sports can get value through commercial means, i.e. offering official data but making access to certain things – sponsorship or other commercial usage – contingent upon signing up for the official data and I think we will see that continue.

“The US market could well set a new benchmark or model for how sports, and rights holders in particular, try to create value from the market.”

Out of what was a fractious debate around a call by the sports leagues for fees to fund sports integrity and exclusive use of official data for ‘their’ product, there has emerged an appetite for common sense and a collaborative commercial approach.

The debate surrounding official and unofficial data was, inevitably, a central component of the Betting on Football panel, where Lampitt was joined by Matt Stephenson (Betgenius), John Harlow (Perform) and Roy Clements (STATS).

The panel highlighted the risks associated with unofficial data, which include delays through extracting data from TV or internet streams, the untimely loss of connectivity or even scouts being ejected from the stadium, which could force the operator to pull markets on a match.

Lampitt added that while there is still space for the unofficial provision of such match data, the systematic scraping or direct copying of data must be stamped out.

“There has to be a degree of honesty about the discussion,” he continued. “The reality is, we talk about official and unofficial, but nobody sitting on this panel is only providing official data. There isn’t one of our companies that has all of the rights to all of the official data for every sport around the world.

“It’s also a bit of a nonsense to suggest that there is always a big disparity between official and unofficial data quality because we’re all providing high quality data, just some of it is official and some isn’t. For example, we have the official rights to the NBA, we just secured the official rights internationally for the MLB as well. Yet, our competitors here are providing unofficial data for these leagues.

“In my view, providing unofficial data is perfectly legitimate, there is a space in the market for it to happen at a particular price point. Until there’s a recognition of that and a shifting of the official market to incorporate it, that will continue to be the case.

“However, that is different to someone who is scraping data systematically or copying data direct from a database, which very clearly is an infringement of the EU Database Right.

“Regardless of whether the data scraped or copied is official or unofficial, there are very significant risks for operators who use that data because they also leave themselves open to the legal risks associated with using IP infringed content.”

Finally, Lampitt echoed the panel’s view that we are “not quite there yet” in terms of automated data collection, but said that it will develop faster for certain sports, for example tennis – “a sport that has already embraced it as part of the infrastructure of the game”.

Lampitt is speaking at the inaugural Betting on Sports America conference, which kicks off today at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in New Jersey.

He will be discussing how basketball – and specifically the NBA as the first of the major sports leagues in the US to soften its stance on betting – can work with bookmakers to develop a mutually beneficial approach to marketing, product and partnerships.

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