At an exclusive roundtable meeting last summer, SBC Magazine learned that Sportradar and Major League Baseball (MLB) would be developing and distributing exciting new products, which included an extension of the in-game betting markets available.
However, we were unaware at the time that this official data partnership would produce a new virtual baseball offering for licensed gaming operators in the US and across the world.
Readied for the start of the 2020 season in March, Sportradar’s first virtual gaming solution developed in association with a major US sports league is now providing baseball fans with the perfect way to engage with MLB all year round.
This concept could not be more timely given the impact that the coronavirus outbreak is having on the sporting calendar, including the current postponement of MLB matches.
David Lampitt, Managing Director for Sports Partnerships at Sportradar, offered his thoughts on expanding the partnership with the new virtual game, for which more than 1,300 motions were captured using a combination of motion capture technology, and software developed specifically to add to the real-life look and feel of the game.
Speaking at ICE London, he explained: “We have a multi-faceted partnership with MLB. It started last year, so we’ve already done one season and are looking forward to the start of the second. We’re very pleased to be announcing the launch of a new product, a virtual baseball in-play betting product that we’re excited to be delivering into the market.”
Just like for the in-game betting feed, the virtual game leverages official MLB data. Across international markets outside of the US, Sportradar holds exclusive distribution rights for the statistics, as collected at every ballpark via the league’s proprietary technology and stat operators, to both media companies and regulated sports betting operators.
Meanwhile in the US, it serves as the official supplier of MLB’s real time betting data feed, where distribution to regulated sports betting operators is on a non-exclusive basis through Sportradar and additional authorised distributors.
Lampitt explained the importance of the official data for the virtual game, adding: “Obviously, official data is the fastest, best, most diverse product out there in the market.
“What that means is it provides the most realistic solution possible. It’s using the best data and therefore most closely resembles the sorts of outcomes that you would expect in a real MLB game, so as a punter or fan you’re going to get as close to a real life experience as possible because it’s all been based on the real data.”
Kenny Gersh, EVP Gaming and New Business Ventures for MLB, said: “One of the reasons we partnered with Sportradar was to develop new, engaging products for our fans, leveraging the power of MLB’s best-in-class content. This first-of-its-kind virtual offering does just that, and we are excited to bring fans this new entertainment option.”
The rollout of the virtual game provides further backing to Kenny’s claim at last summer’s roundtable in London that Sportradar was, amongst all competing providers, the best positioned to meet all of the “data distribution needs” for baseball’s premier league.
At the time, he explained that Sportradar would be helping MLB to take all the rich, reliable and fast data it collects in the ballpark through Statcast – “a system that is much more than balls and strikes” – and deliver it to the betting market.
Frank Wenzig, Sportradar’s Managing Director of Gaming Solutions, was another to speak with SBC Magazine at this year’s ICE (see embedded video above). He said that virtual sports are known to create value in emerging markets, especially around partnerships with a real association or league.
He added: “With our MLB partnership, we have the advantage of proper marketing support, giving our clients access to use official MLB branding as a stamp of authenticity. Even beyond the US, MLB is a brand that is well known and well perceived, which will help clients in regions such as Latin America and also Asia.
“We have seen in the past that there is a clear tendency for virtual sports to grow alongside sports betting. Nevertheless, due to changes in technology, perceptions quickly change. A couple of years ago, it was all about the desktop, now it’s all about the mobile. So get it up and running in the right way on the right devices, that’s the key.”