Spotlight Sports Group is moving beyond horse racing and sports betting with an all-cash acquisition of fantasy sports media platform Alarm Sports Network.
Backed by Exponent Private Equity, Spotlight Sports is looking to build a global betting and fantasy content platform. The deal will expand its white-label business of games that partners can brand as their own, as well as consumer-facing subscription services. The deal will also help the group grow its presence in North America, where fantasy sports have deep roots and sports betting is starting to take off.
“Because of what’s happening in America, that’s our No. 1 priority,” Spotlight Sports CEO Alan Byrne said in an interview. “We think that rich content will have an important part to play in the market. We appreciate that for now operators are scrambling to get their licenses and their platforms live, but in time, people are going to want to provide content to support their offerings.”
Byrne declined to provide financial specifics of the transaction.
Spotlight evolved from Racing Post, a horse racing and sports betting publisher based in the U.K. The company is on pace for more than $100 million in revenue this year, Byrne said, with about 30% of that coming from newspaper sales and the other 70% from digital means. That digital revenue is primarily from advertising, subscriptions, business-to-business sales, and betting partnerships with operators.
Alarm Sports makes white-label fantasy and free-to-play contests for media companies like Bally’s and the Nation Network. It also has consumer-facing subscription platforms like Fantasy Alarm and DFS Alarm, which will be folded into Spotlight Sports.
While sports betting is getting increased attention across North America as states and provinces move to make legal wagering more prevalent, fantasy sports remain a valuable and viable business. That’s especially true in big states like New York, Texas and California, where mobile sports betting is still illegal. Fantasy sports is a way for everyone in the ecosystem to gain customers now who might later be applicable for gambling.
“This acquisition covers the fantasy gap in our portfolio,” Byrne said. “It also puts us in a position to provide content that is of interest in states that are not yet legal from a betting perspective. The other thing it does, is that rather than hiring individuals step-by-step from various companies, we’re acquiring a team of talent immediately. It would take us a long time, in quite a hot market, to hire the range of talent on the editorial side and the product and tech side that Alarm has to offer.”
Alarm Sports’s executive team is staying on at Spotlight. They include president Rick Wolf, a former NBC Sports executive, and co-founders Dan and Al Williams. In total, Alarm Sports’ roughly 50 full-time and part-time employees will be joining Spotlight, bringing the company’s headcount over 500.
Spotlight Sports’ portfolio also includes Pickswise, which is focused primarily on the North American betting market.
(This story has been corrected in the sixth paragraph to clarify which media companies have used Alarm Sports fantasy and free-to-play contests.)