The two sides are in advanced talks following a competitive RFP process that began last year, according to multiple people familiar with the talks. The deal could still fall apart, said the people, who were granted anonymity because the negotiations are private.
It’s unclear how much IMG Arena might pay MLS for the rights, but for some leagues these are massive commercial partnerships. The NFL’s deal with Genius Sports (NYSE: GENI) included hundreds of millions in both cash and equity; the NBA also received equity in its new partnership with Sportradar (Nasdaq: SRAD).
Official data feeds are one of the more direct ways leagues can profit from the rapid expansion of legal sports betting, not just in the U.S., but also overseas. For MLS, which is currently negotiating its next round of domestic TV deals, the data pact presents an opportunity to strengthen its relationship with existing fans, and to draw in new ones. The league is experiencing rapid commercial growth, with the average franchise now worth about $550 million, according to Sportico’s valuations.
As the middleman for MLS data, IMG Arena would help collect it from venues around the country, then package it for sports betting operators and media companies globally. The league will work with IMG to try to make that data stream faster, more robust and more reliable than feeds built only off live video—which will compel operators to pay for access.
Launched in 2012 and headquartered in London, IMG Arena works with more than 450 sportsbooks covering 45,000 sports events annually. The group’s league and federation clients include the PGA Tour, the ATP and Italy’s Serie A.
Endeavor, which went public in April, owns a number of companies that do business across sports and entertainment, including positions in NFL-backed hospitality company On Location Experience, college-sports rights giant Learfield, and gambling-tech platform OpenBet. It also owns mixed-martial-arts circuit UFC and the Professional Bull Riders.