What price, big data? That’s becoming more and more of a question as the need for real time in depth statistics for sports around the world become more valuable to the end user, be they brands looking to add value to consumer offerings, broadcasters trying to get an edge in providing added value to viewers, or companies providing information to paying customers in the fast-growing gaming, fantasy and gambling world. The days of waiting even minutes for detailed numbers are quickly becoming a thing of the past, as connectivity improves and transaction speeds elevate and morph into a data-driven consumer environment.
One of those companies who has found a growing service business on the back end is Chicago-area based Stats. The company’s sweet spot is in providing almost instantaneous game and player information to fantasy football applications and TV broadcasters through partnerships they have with leagues such as the NBA and over 230 organizations sports leagues globally. Some of the data is proprietary, some is shared, but from the US to China and India, the company co-owned by Fox and Associated Press News Service is a must-have for over 600 clients around the world who pay top dollar for their back-end service. Now Stats is not the only company with high-end data deals. The UK-based company, Perform, is also a mega-player in the space, licensing out their data in sports like soccer to broadcasters and others with a need for raw information or customized feeds. The Elias Sports Bureau has long been the source for Major League Baseball data, along with the work that MLB.com does as well. Then there are also smaller providers who pull data close to real time from the public domain and service other outlets who need the information for their consumer services, but not in light speed. So the space can be muddled, and because there are a finite number of games being played at any one point, the data collection does have somewhat of a ceiling.
However what does not right now have a ceiling is the way analytics can be used by any number of growing global audiences and who can ultimately pair that data with consumer-facing businesses or media companies to turn a profit margin. Connectivity for the consumer in the mobile space, an area which is still growing in fits and starts in North America, makes the customizable data even more valuable as services like pay fantasy games, lottery games involving stats, and eventually mobile gambling outside of where it is currently licensed in Nevada, becomes more and more of a viable tool for revenue in sports. And as that viability increases, the data providers become more valuable.
How valuable? That market appears to be coming clearer. A report in Wednesday’s New York Post said that STATS is seeking a buyer for their technology services and their licenses and partnerships at around $200 Million dollars. If that is a realistic number, then other data providers can fall into line for what their market value is, depending on the amount of proprietary content they can offer. That number is also one that has value in today’s environment, where analytics are being provided to a very select number of gambling organizations who can use the data for their clients legally. They include sports books in Nevada and then other houses in countries where wagering is legal at this time. If and when sports gambling becomes legal in the US outside of Las Vegas, those relationships held by STATS and others become infinitely more valuable. That data is not just of value to the companies providing information to potential gamers and gamblers; it also has value for brands that may go and create their own fantasy games or apps for fans to engage during live sporting events. Companies like SAP or Microsoft for example, can build very elaborate platforms to engage their customers, but without the back-end data their offerings won’t be as robust. That is where the value of a data provider really comes into play in the consumer world.
So where all this data mining go for companies that were in early like a STATS, an Elias, or a Perform? That is the question at this point. The value is in what a consumer or a media company will pay, and with multiple lower cost providers out there mining what is essentially free information as games go on, what is the fair market price for information. All that is still to be determined, but in a world where the consumer, the media company, even the league and the athlete, has an ever-growing thirst for customized and proprietary data, the market appears to be growing, and a price, maybe $200 million at least for a part of the business, may about to be set.