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General view during the first quarter of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images via AFP.
General view during the first quarter of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images via AFP.

Fresh off an 11-year $113 billion media rights deal, the NFL is looking to cash in on another aspect of their sport, the exclusive rights to distribute its official sports betting data. NFL data is a critical piece of the exploding US sports betting industry and the league is looking to monetize what many see as the future of NFL revenue streams.

Sportradar, Genius Sports and IMG Arena are the three companies chasing the rights to distribute NFL data to sports betting operators with Sportradar, which the NFL currently has an equity stake in, apparently in the driver's seat for exclusive distribution rights. One way or another, the NFL has targeted legal sports betting and its own data as crucial for its "newish" revenue opportunity.

“We’re going to find ways which we engage fans through legalised sports betting,” remarked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“But we’ve retained those rights and we’re going to look to see where those opportunities lie and how we’ll be working with our network partners. But we fully expect that they’ll be engaged in all of our activities going forward.”

Value of Data

Sportradar, currently the biggest distributor of NFL data and the league, have had a relationship dating back to 2015 when the data company paid $5 million per year for the right to provide league stats to betting providers. Distribution has come a long way in the six years since the consummation of that relationship and now the league is seeking in the neighbourhood of $100 million, all the way up to $250 million for the rights to sell league data.

Top notch data within the legal sports betting realm cannot be discounted. Popularity of legal sports betting, specifically live betting has seen exponential growth - live betting is estimated to reach 75% of the nation's sports betting handle within the next few years and is reliant on the quick turn-around of stats to support the bet-type.

Data companies are the key to the growth and expansion of live betting opportunities and the NFL seems to be in good position to take full financial advantage of that fact, especially with the realization that sports betting providers are seemingly willing to pay the premiums that data providers and the league itself set out.

“Tier 1 operators may find themselves happy to pay the price in the context of their broader relationships with commissioner’s offices,” said Lloyd Danzig, the founder of Sharp Alpha Advisors.

Is Data Sellable?

The answer to this question is "Yes", for now. But questions still exist about the proprietary nature of league data. As It stands, anyone can gather stats and figures simply by watching games and is not necessarily protected under copyright laws.

But recently, there have been lawsuits targeting the accuracy and speed for which bettors receive much-needed data for betting purposes. The need for quick and reliable data is crucial for both the NFL and sports betting operators going forward and companies with certain expertise are the only way to ensure this end.

The deeper, more minute details about players, teams and the games themselves are much more difficult to gather, especially without the cooperation of the league itself. In the end, it is the quick and bullet-proof stats from data companies that help sportsbooks set odds and determine payouts on an increasingly wide-ranging variety of wagering opportunities.

NFL Officially All-In

If there was any doubt about the NFL's stance on the subject of sports betting and its impact on their game, they have all-but been erased by the league's pursuit of the monetization of its official league stats for gambling purposes.

The NFL owns stakes in data company, Sportradar, which currently provides the bulk of the legal NFL data for the betting industry and has made not-so-subtle recent attempts to not only partner with US sportsbooks, but to also make money off of the platform. If it wasn’t official before, it is now - the NFL is all-in on legal sports betting.