PGA Tour Follows NFL Lead in Selling Official Data Via New Deal with IMG Arena

Posted on: September 9, 2019, 11:58h. 

Last updated on: September 18, 2019, 11:32h.

The PGA Tour has signed an extended deal with IMG Arena that will grant the London-based sports data company the exclusive right to stream official PGA data feeds to sports betting operators.

PGA Tour
Rory McIlroy won the PGA Tour Championship last month, an event that may soon be the subject of in-play betting through the tour’s new Shotlink technology. (Image: PGA Tour)

The new PGA Tour tees off just weeks after the last one ended, appropriately enough at West Virginia’s Greenbrier Hotel, which recently launched the state’s first mobile sports betting app in partnership with FanDuel.

But if FanDuel and other betting operators want access to official data for in-play betting, they will have to pay IMG for the privilege, at least once the deal comes into force early next year.

The company was made the PGA Tour’s official data distributor for media and betting purposes in November 2018. But the new deal — for an undisclosed sum — offers exclusivity on the delivery of “live, shot-by-shot match and event data to global operators.”

The PGA’s official data is collected through proprietary technology known as Shotlink, which uses a network of walking scorers, lasers, and cameras to distribute a set of data points on each shot in real time.

Will Operators Pay?

Whether operators will want to pay for this service depends on a number of factors, not least the price point, which is currently unknown.

Last week, ESPN reported that data company Sportradar was asking US operators for a 1.5 percent cut of net profits for access to official data from the NFL, with which it has an exclusive distribution deal.

As the most bet-upon sport in the US, NFL data can reasonably be assumed to be the most valuable.

Much depends also on how narrowly the PGA Tour is defining “exclusivity” and how fiercely it is prepared to guard data. For example, if IMG has exclusivity on official data, does this prevent other companies from also gathering data from PGA competitions?

Sportsradar in Soccer Battle

Last week, Sportradar threatened to sue Football DataCo, the rights holder of soccer in England and Scotland, and its data partner, Genius Sports, for breach of competition law in their monopolization of soccer data feeds.

In a letter before action, Sportradar said the companies “aggressively target” anyone gathering data within stadiums during matches, which harmed bettors by restricting “price, product choice, speed, accuracy, reliability and innovation.”

Official PGA data would offer a deeper level of information and allow operators to create unique betting markets. But the existence of other data-gathering companies based around the PGA Tour could provide an alternative for operators.

Meanwhile, on Friday federal legislation that would mandate operators to purchase official league data appeared to be making a comeback in Congress. It’s a movement being pushed by the leagues after state legislators largely rejected their calls to make the use of their data compulsory.

States that have regulated or are in the process of regulating sports betting, as well as the gaming industry, are opposed to any federal legislation, which remains a longshot to pass.