This article was produced in association with Sportradar
It may come as a surprise to some, but Sportradar has actually offered audiovisual services for more than a decade.
The growth of in-play betting over recent years has meant that audiovisual content – once considered as merely nice-to-have – is now a must-have for bookmakers whilst also providing a significant commercial opportunity for sports.
“More and more bettors want and expect to be able to see the contests and matches that they are betting on, no matter the sport, country, league or time,” says Lutz Tigges, Sportradar’s senior director of media rights.
“That means more and more sports have the opportunity to generate revenue when they sell their betting audiovisual rights to reputable and well-established companies in this space.
“We can distribute that content to more than 500 licensed operators worldwide, taking a sport further afield than might have previously been possible.”
Having already established a proven track record in audiovisual services, Sportradar acquired Sportsman, one of the industry’s leading sports-rights agencies, in a game-changing strategic move in 2016.
“Sportradar had already established a strong partnership with the International Tennis Federation back in 2012, but wanted to diversify and build its portfolio,” Tigges says. “Sportsman was a pioneer in delivering audiovisual content to betting companies and had in fact created this media-rights category.
“Now, following the acquisition of Sportsman, we offer over 30,000 live matches from tens of sports every year and have firmly established Sportradar as the go-to and trusted partner for any sport or competition, large or small, that is looking to take their audiovisual content into this vibrant space.”
Over the past 10 years, Sportradar has collaborated with a number of major partners, such as the German Bundesliga and Spanish LaLiga in international markets, while long-term partnerships with the likes of the European Volleyball Federation (CEV) and the World Rally Championship underline the opportunities of joint management, development and syndication.
Whereas the focus was once solely on delivering sports content to licensed betting operators, Sportradar has in recent years built on these solid foundations and expanded its horizons.
The most significant development in this regard has been the development of an innovative and adaptable OTT platform, which caters for a variety of requirements.
“Following the Sportsman acquisition, we poured our significant pedigree, experience and infrastructure into creating a new Sportradar OTT offering,” says Rainer Geier, the managing director of Sportradar’s digital platforms and services.
“This was officially rolled out last summer and its unique proposition was that while we could offer the standard version of the platform, we had developed a suite of highly customisable, tailor-made solutions that could be adapted to fit the priorities, concerns, resources and viewers of a whole range of sports, competitions, clubs and even broadcasters, most of which had been effectively excluded by the options that were available until then.”
For international federations, one of the most attractive aspects of the OTT platform is that it can be offered on a no-cost and revenue-share basis.
According to Geier, this model resulted from research and conversations with IFs and leagues, which recognised the opportunity of owning their own OTT offering, but had budgetary concerns.
Less than a year after launching, the OTT platform has been launched for 20 international rights-holders – including the European Handball Federation, European Hockey Federation and the International Tennis Federation’s Davis Cup and Fed Cup – with five more in the pipeline.
“The pick-up for our revenue-share model has been extraordinary, but we are not fixated on pushing just this model,” Geier says. “We often work with hybrid models and combined offers.
“With almost 20 years of streaming experience from the Sportsman team and the outstanding data expertise of Sportradar, rights-holders can provide a data-driven OTT platform that can deliver a peerless fan experience to a new generation of followers, while also generating elusive ‘digital’ revenues.
“That is before a partner looks to bolt on any of the other Sportradar portfolio services, such as support with identifying sponsorship and advertising partners, as well as our market-leading integrity services. That kind of holistic offer just cannot be matched.”
Sportradar adopts a broad outlook when it comes to supporting its partners, as Tigges explains.
“We are not only their best partner for data, betting and integrity services, but also in the non-betting area and commercialising media content globally,” he says. “We create multiple synergies with our digital and OTT businesses that are very attractive to our partners as they enhance the offering towards fans.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg. Sportradar has expertise in betting audiovisual services, but also media-rights distribution and delivering the best OTT solution for any sport. That breadth of expertise, all under one roof, means we can meet the objectives of each sport or league across all audiovisual elements. That is a powerful proposition.
“If you add in the data pedigree we have, which is already well known across the industry, we can factor in how a data partnership, distribution and visualisations can enrich the content across all those elements. Putting together that unique puzzle for each client is what is so exciting and what Sportradar can uniquely offer rights-owners.”
The integration of Sportradar’s data into audiovisual services is a prime example of what sports fans are increasingly engaging with, according to Tigges.
“Fans want to watch live coverage, but they now want data visualisations to help them gain insight into the action,” he says. “They also welcome predictions and even live betting opportunities that help them to deepen their emotional investment in the contest. They also want to chat and upload to social media to keep conversations going. So, rights-holders that can deliver that kind of multi-engagement functionality on one screen are going to be delivering what fans want and will soon expect.
“The aggregation of Sportradar’s capabilities in delivering all of those elements credibly and reliably means that we are already developing these kinds of experiences.”
As part of this one-stop-shop offering, OTT is just one part of the approach, Geier explains.
“Sportradar tries to help our partners establish a content strategy that integrates and leverages the strengths of the whole spectrum of distribution channels and we don’t push for OTT platform exclusivity,” he adds.
“In order to really explore what monetisation opportunities are still out there, Sportradar recently established a digital advertising monetisation unit, which has connections with some of the leading media agencies and networks. Among its objectives, that unit will specialise in brokering official partnerships for our OTT partners.”
Geier predicts that the dovetailing of video and data will be increasingly common in an exciting future.
“Users will be able to enjoy their own personalised highlights based on data and machine learning, and sponsors will be able to activate when the connection and relevance between the content or action and the advertising is at its strongest,” he says. “These capabilities are in our DNA already – driving fan engagement and insight, as well revenues.”