IMG is nearing a multi-year agreement with the ATP World Tour for betting data and live wagering rights that may result in the largest media rights deal in the history of professional tennis.
The partnership could be a major setback for data providers such as Sportradar, Perform Group and Genius Sports, which currently dominate the global marketplace. The deal pertains to matches on the ATP World Masters 1000 series, the World Tour 500 series and certain tournaments on the ATP 250 tour.
The two sides are close to an agreement on a 10-year, $1 billion deal, SportsBusiness Media reported on Tuesday.
Historic tennis data deal
In December 2015, Sportradar inked a five-year, $70 mm deal to become the exclusive data partner of the International Tennis Federation. The partnership extended a previous agreement that became effective in 2012.
Shortly after Sportradar’s agreement, four organizations responsible for governing professional tennis on the international level – the ATP, the ITF, the WTA and the Grand Slam Board – commissioned an independent panel to review integrity-related betting concerns across the sport.
The resulting investigation, a 113-page report entitled the “Independent Review Of Integrity Tennis,” was released last December. Among other findings, the panel recommended that opportunities for data breaches should be reduced by setting limitations on “the supply of official live scoring data,” in professional tennis.
Consider the following finding (emphasis added)
Finally, TIU investigators – the professionals charged with enforcing the tennis anti-corruption rules – have repeatedly confirmed, in their evidence to the Panel and publicly, not just the structural drivers of integrity breaches at the lower levels of tennis, but also the seriousness of the integrity problem now facing the sport. An experienced TIU investigator estimated that “hundreds of matches at Futures level (both singles and doubles) are not being played fairly, with the numbers reducing as you move upwards through the ranks of the professional game”. Another reported that at some lower levels of the sport, tennis faces a “tsunami” of low-level betting and other integrity breaches.
In response to the panel’s interim report released in April 2018, Sportradar outlined several recommendations aimed at curbing corruption related to betting on tennis. The recommendations include: enhanced measures to focus on abuses in low-level matches, the increased use of technology to target heightened risks of corruption and a proactive approach to target matches with elevated risks for corrupt activity.
“Attempting a total data black-out on a sport has never been done, or even trialed or tested before. Counter evidence and expert analysis indicate that such an approach is likely to have a harmful effect on integrity, which would be hard to reverse if unsuccessful,” Sportradar Managing Director Group Operations David Lampitt wrote at the time.
The panel also urged federal authorities to make better use of criminal laws at the national level to aid in efforts to fight match-fixing abuses.
IMG reached a multi-year deal with the PGA Tour last November to distribute data from the Tour’s Shotlink technology to gambling operators outside the U.S.
In January 2015, the agency also extended a multiyear data agreement with the ATP Tour and WTA through 2020.