The National Hockey League and Sportradar have finalized their new 10-year partnership, giving the Swiss firm the exclusive rights to distribute NHL data to sportsbooks and media companies in the U.S. and abroad.
Sportradar will also distribute live streams to gambling operators (including out-of-market games to sportsbooks in the U.S.) and utilize its ad:s platform to help the NHL source international betting sponsorships. That portion has already produced results—the league has signed recent deals with OlyBet in the Baltics and Tipsport in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
“The NHL is a huge opportunity for us in a lot of markets where we have big betting operator clients, in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and elsewhere,” Steve Byrd, Sportradar’s U.S. head of sports content and partnerships, said in an interview. “We’re excited to have video rights to stream games there, and to be doing these sponsorship packages that tie a lot of the rights together.”
Sportradar, which has never before signed a global data deal of this duration, emerged as the winner of a competitive auction last summer, which Sportico reported in August. The NHL season began in January, as the two sides were still hammering out the final details, and the full partnership will kick in for the 2021-22 season.
While financial specifics weren’t provided, late stage bidding last year was said to have passed $250 million. Both sides declined to comment on the final terms, or say whether the NHL received equity as part of the deal.
The NHL makes up a small percentage of sports wagers at U.S. sportsbooks, but the numbers are growing, and in other parts of the world, interest is much more concentrated. This partnership is aimed at both strengthening the league’s relationship with its existing fans, and using media and betting products to attract new ones.
“Those are both equally important, and this deal checks both those boxes,” said Keith Wachtel, the NHL’s chief business officer.
Official data feeds are one of the most direct ways leagues can profit off the expansion of sports betting in the U.S, and these exclusive partnerships are generally among the biggest non-broadcast partnerships in the market. Sportradar and the NHL will work to make the official feed so complete—in speed and reliability—that sportsbooks and media companies are compelled to pay up for it.
That will include the league’s new puck and player tracking system. Starting this season, the NHL put sensors in its pucks and on every player’s jersey, giving it the ability to track almost the entire game in real time. Player skating speed, shot velocity and distance travelled are among the many metrics now available for live betting or for use on telecasts.
“We’re admittedly just at the starting point of this journey on tracking and using the data to tell stories,” said Stephen McArdle, the NHL’s senior executive vice president for digital media and strategic planning. “Having another partner who is fully invested in learning along with us the right ways to share that data, to present that data, and in the sports betting context the right ways to use that data, that’s very important to us.”
The Sportradar deal comes just a few months after the league negotiated a new set of U.S. broadcast contracts, with ESPN and Turner Sports, that will pay more than $4.3 billion over the next seven season. On a per-year basis, the U.S. rights will more than double under the new structure.
The NHL and Sportradar have been working together in some capacity since 2015, primarily on data and integrity services. This deal adds the streaming and the marketing partnership, among other things.
“The NHL has been a terrific partner for Sportradar for nearly seven years,” said Carsten Koerl, Sportradar’s CEO. “This agreement truly highlights the global, multi-vertical, wide-ranging capabilities of Sportradar’s technology solutions and reflects how we use data to create engaging, personalized experiences for our partners and customers.”
Sportradar had preliminary plans earlier this year to go public via SPAC acquisition but those talks, with Todd Boehly’s Horizon Acquisition Corp. II, eventually fell through. The company is now planning a traditional IPO, though the timing of that is unclear.