Genius deal for EPL data a major step for in-play bets
When London-based Genius Sports Group locked up exclusive rights to distribute the English Premier League’s live data feed to sportsbooks around the world last week, it offered one more reminder of the central role that product now plays as the sports betting business expands across the U.S.
Sports properties and data companies argue that official data is essential to sportsbooks that offer in-play wagering — the opportunity to place bets at odds that evolve as a game unfolds. In-play betting now accounts for upward of 70% of gross gaming revenue for sportsbooks in the U.K. In the U.S. states that allow betting on mobile devices — most notably New Jersey and Nevada — that share is already about 40%, leading sportsbook operators said.
But thus far few U.S. sportsbook operators have been willing to purchase official data, arguing that in-play has not developed enough to merit the increased price of the data. MGM Resorts International has embraced the idea, as has FanDuel. But most have elected to do without.
Genius executives predict that will swing as the market for in-play develops and the value becomes more apparent and pricing settles in to match demand.
“There’s a value exchange there, where sports [properties] provide the content and the data helps fuel the industry,” said Christopher Dougan, managing director of U.S. operations for Genius Sports. “The industry is starting to mature and recognize the value that official data provides. But it takes time. We as a company don’t advocate for an official data mandate [by regulators]. But to drive innovation in product and services and offer the best betting experience to your customers, official data is the best fuel you can provide for those products and services.”
Genius replaces Perform Group, which held the EPL’s sports betting data rights since the league first offered them for sale in 2013. Financial terms of the multiyear deal were not revealed, though the popularity of the league among bettors and the exclusive nature of the deal likely make it the most lucrative in sports.
The EPL is the most-bet-on sports property in the world, with its biggest matches generating as much as $200 million in gross gambling revenue (GGR) for legal, regulated sportsbooks. The opportunity to offer a robust in-play product to the U.S. bettors on weekend mornings could prove to be a growth engine for EPL viewership.
“The Premier League already has used the power of television to reach a new audience in the U.S. through NBC, and sports betting will only add to that,” Dougan said. “This is another arm where they will be able to drive fan engagement toward the sport and internationalize it even more. It’s a huge opportunity.”