This article was produced by SportBusiness International working in association with Genius Sports
Sports leagues and federations are becoming increasingly aware of the technologies required to handle the explosion of game-changing data, according to Genius Sports’ managing director, Nick Maywald.
Genius Sports offers an innovative partnership model that provides sports organisations with the tools needed to boost data collection and dissemination in areas including fan engagement and event management in exchange for their betting and media data rights.
Whereas most data deals feature a straightforward rights fee, Maywald explains that Genius Sports’ approach focuses on establishing long-lasting partnerships that can help sports bodies to exploit the opportunities presented by big data.
“When sports can see how data can help coaches make better talent recruitment decisions, improve player and team performance, help the commercial team generate increased revenue through ticket sales and sponsorship, as well as help them understand and engage with the fan base, then attitudes are easily changed,” Maywald says.
“We’ve seen it as our responsibility to educate sports on the commercial value of their data in areas where they may not have as good an understanding. For example, how their official live data can be monetised through regulated sports betting and media distribution networks.
“We expect more and more sports federations and leagues to embrace big data and look to partner with experienced technology providers to help them collect, process, use, share and monetise this data.”
At the heart of Genius Sports’ approach is technological innovation. According to Maywald, in order to add strategic value, technology companies need to be “more than just an IT supplier” and should develop specific solutions to meet clients’ challenges. This includes harnessing real-time data to give sports a greater range of fan engagement tools, such as mobile site and apps, and tapping into the growing popularity of fantasy sports competitions.
“Our partnership model centres on us investing in leagues and federations by acquiring data rights to help the sport protect and build value in their data – providing new revenue streams for them in a sustainable and responsible way,” he adds.
“Crucially, this is not only a financial investment. Genius Sports also offers value-inkind technology and data solutions in exchange for data rights, including opportunities for sport to share in the upside as revenue increases.
“We flex this model to work in partnership with not only the largest and most commercial leagues and federations, but also small leagues and federations with limited resources.”
The company has grown significantly over the past 18 months through the opening of new offices in the US, Colombia and Lithuania to extend a presence to more than a dozen locations worldwide and boost the workforce to nearly 800 staff. That’s not to mention a series of strategic acquisitions.
“These acquisitions were all leading companies providing data-driven solutions to sports, media and regulated betting markets, growing our sports tech and data collection capabilities hugely,” he adds. “Further acquisitions are planned over the next 12 months – all aimed at supporting our mission to become the world’s leading sports data and technology provider. We have had some major client wins, too, including with the best-known sports leagues in the US, and have made great progress into new regions like Asia and South America.
“We will continue to invest in cutting-edge product development, as well as acquisition activity, to remain ahead of the game when it comes to new technologies and how they can impact sport.”
Earlier this year, Genius Sports extended a partnership with Fiba to become the official data and statistics league and federation partner of basketball’s global governing body.
The company’s Fiba LiveStats solution is now used by more than 70 per cent of basketball leagues and federations globally – about 180 in total – and powers the courtside capture, distribution and monetisation of basketball data from 30,000 games per year.
In football, Genius Sports continues to expand its global footprint with a host of new partners ranging from small member associations to the largest governing bodies.
Under a recent deal to become the Official Betting Data Partner of Lega B, Genius Sports is developing solutions for the body that operates the second tier of Italian football and its clubs, and is exclusively distributing live streaming and statistical data from all matches to online betting operators in the country.
Maywald believes that such partnerships, as well as a commitment to continuous technological innovation, will keep Genius Sports at the forefront of an evolving sector that is providing fresh opportunities in areas as diverse as machine learning, wearable technologies and esports.
“Advancement in technologies will result in more and more data. The key will be how sports stakeholders use this data effectively,” he says. “One thing for sure is that data will impact not only how fans consume sport and how athletes train but also how sponsors invest in sport and how governments formulate sport policy and make national investments in facilities and resources.”