Sportradar US, the sports data company with its U.S. operations in Minneapolis, has signed a deal to provide global sports statistics to the Associated Press.
The deal means the AP’s 1,400 daily newspaper members and thousands of TV and radio broadcast customers will receive scores, stats, boxscores, leaderboards, schedules and standings from Sportradar, including Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, NASCAR, NHL and college football and basketball.
“The Sportradar team is honored to work with the most respected news institution in the world,” said Tom Masterman, chief revenue officer, U.S., at Sportradar. “It is our goal that today’s announcement is the first milestone in what will develop into a landmark collaboration in our industry.”
Fueled by the rise of fantasy sports, sabermetrics, gambling and even data-driven fraud detection, sports statistics has become an increasingly sophisticated business, and Minneapolis is now home to one of two large players in the U.S. market.
In 2010, two frustrated customers of the sports statistics giant Stats LLC founded SportsData in a room at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. They were Rob Phythian, who co-founded Fantasy Football Weekly and the website FanBall, and Dave Abbott, the founding chief technology officer of Internet Broadcasting Systems, a company that built websites for TV stations. Their new firm was acquired in 2013 by Swiss stats giant Sportradar.
In 2015, the firm landed deals with NASCAR and the NFL, striking blows against Stats LLC. The deal with the Associated Press is another victory for Sportradar. Stats LLC has been the AP’s sports data provider for 20 years.
Sports stats companies get their data by two methods. They can partner with a league or association to collect and distribute official numbers from statkeepers at the site of the competition, or they must watch the competition on TV or online and keep track of stats themselves.
Sportradar US started by paying college students to watch sporting events and enter stats meticulously into the company’s database. Today, from an office in downtown Minneapolis, it continues to employ many part-time statkeepers. Every night, a room with 140 stations of TV monitors and computer screens fills up as the puck drops or the first pitch is thrown at contests all over the country.
The system of feeds built by Abbott and the firm’s developers allows Sportradar to sell the stats to customers who need the data. In the early days, the customers were fantasy sports leagues.
Later, Google became a customer after executives were impressed by the quality of Abbott’s software. Then, Facebook and Twitter became customers. Now NBC, IBM and Turner Sports are customers.
“We are excited about what Sportradar brings to AP and its many members and customers,” said Barry Bedlan, AP’s sports products manager. “We are impressed with their back-end technology and their willingness to collaborate on many fronts, including digital.”
Sportradar’s U.S. advisory board includes Ted Leonsis, former head of AOL; Mark Cuban, who became a billionaire with an early internet sports broadcasting firm, and retired NBA star Michael Jordan. The firm has about 185 employees in Minneapolis and its office is in the Fifth Street Towers.