Major League Soccer (MLS) has signed an exclusive long-term global partnership with IMG Arena to create next-generation fan experiences in sports betting. IMG Arena will produce data feeds and use proprietary software that will service both the back end and the front end of the sportsbook. The agreement is worth more than $270 million, according to people familiar with the deal who were granted anonymity because the matter is private.
IMG Arena will deliver official data, innovative content solutions, next-generation fan analytics, and marketing tools to MLS’s betting and media partners. The agreement will launch three new MLS live data feeds designed to enhance the fan experience via a series of brand-new digital media and betting products.
“We’re excited to be IMG Arena’s launch partner for all of that in the global sport of football,” Christopher Schlosser, MLS’ SVP of Emerging Ventures, said in a phone interview. “We think that builds well on the recently announced global media partnership with Apple, where all of our matches are available in one place worldwide starting 2023.”
The league recently signed an exclusive streaming deal with Apple for $250 million annually, allowing fans to watch the games without blackouts. In March, MLS became French fantasy and collectibles company Sorare’s first U.S. league partner.
“The IMG Arena partnership helps build upon that and make the actual games more compelling by providing advanced data visualizations, helping fans understand what’s happening on the field of play, offering wagers and creating a whole new suite of digital experiences,” Schlosser said. “This new partnership will utilize the latest digital marketing technology to drive MLS and MLS Next Pro fan growth ahead of World Cup 2026 in North America.”
The London-based company delivers live streaming and data feed for more than 45,000 sports events annually, as well as on-demand virtual sports products and front-end solutions, including the UFC Event Centre. IMG ARENA’s clients include the ATP, UFC, European Tour, PGA Tour, EuroLeague, MLS and the F.A.
“Major League Soccer is the fastest-growing soccer league in the world, more than doubling in size to 29 clubs over the last 15 years,” Freddie Longe, president of IMG Arena, said. “And the U.S. consumer is arguably the most sophisticated, and in the sports betting world, the legalization of sports betting in the United States has presented that incredibly sophisticated audience with a blank canvas.”
In addition, MLS and IMG Arena will launch a suite of new digital products enabling the league, its teams and partners to use data, graphics and insights to enhance the game and further engage the digital MLS audience on MLSsoccer.com, the MLS App and all MLS Club Sites.
“We create super fast high-quality data, and it is available for coaches and GMs to use in their scouting for coaches in real-time to use on the bench or at halftime,” Schlosser said. “It really powers the entire MLS enterprise.”
IMG Arena will also help MLS as the league’s official data distribution partner, using the latest analytics technology to create a new standard for soccer data and drive the next generation of fan engagement in MLS and MLS NEXT Pro.
(This story was updated in the fourth paragraph to clarify that Apple’s streaming deal was annual.)