Perform ready to offer 90 per cent of content to US betting market
By Florence Lloyd-Hughes
Perform, the international digital sports content and media group, is prepared to offer 90 per cent of its content to the prospective US sports betting market, but is waiting to see exactly how many states will allow the activity under changes to legislation.
The company has been in talks with various rights-holders, as well as betting operators, regulators, technology and media companies in USA following the decision of the country’s Supreme Court to lift federal restrictions on sports betting.
Earlier this week, in a landmark ruling, the court said that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which prohibits the majority of sports betting outside of the state of Nevada, was not consistent with the US constitution. The ruling effectively grants states permission to legislate their own sports betting laws and legalise sports betting in casinos and racetracks.
It is expected that online sports betting could also be available if a platform partners with a land-based licence-holder, albeit it would depend on individual state laws.
As a major player in the industry, Perform is preparing to make its move. The company presently has data and media rights deals for numerous properties across a wide range of territories, and also runs a non-profit betting integrity business that works with rights-holders including English soccer's Premier League and the Wimbledon tennis championships.
In addition, Perform is strengthening its presence in North America via a recent $1-billion tie-up with Matchroom Boxing, the UK boxing promoter, which will bring about the launch of Perform's over-the-top channel DAZN in the USA. The service is already available in Canada.
In an interview with Sportcal, Andrew Ashenden, Perform's managing director of betting highlighted the DAZN-Matchroom Boxing deal as a “perfect storm” for the company as it seeks to gain a foothold in the US sports betting market, which could be worth as much as $2 billion across just 20 states, according to a study by industry researcher GamingCompliance.
The same study projects that within five to seven years the market could surge to $5.8 billion.
As a comparison, the American Sports Betting Coalition estimates that $150 billion is waged via illegal sports betting in the country every year.
On the content that Perform could offer to distribute to betting operators, Ashenden said: “We have rights to around 20,000 live video matches and 90 per cent of that content is cleared for the US. We are ready to provide data and video to potential betting operators in the US.”
Perform also has wide-ranging global media deals with the Women’s Tennis Association and FIBA, the international basketball federation.
Outside the USA, Perform has media rights and digital content relationships with American football’s NFL, basketball’s NBA and Conmebol, the governing body for soccer in South America, among others.
It is unclear how many states will offer sports betting and Ashenden acknowledges that this makes it tricky for Perform to value its rights and project potential revenues.
He said: “These are exactly the conversations that have to happen [where sports betting will be available] when we are discussing these kind of rights deals and that needs to be reflected in the structure of the deal.
"There’s a dramatic difference between all 50 states, all online and unrestricted offerings on markets and a favourable tax regime versus an unfavourable tax regime, land-based only and only a handful of states.
“A large chunk of states will open up betting, but the rate of progress is a considerable variable and that is a consideration in any of the discussions we are having.”
Around 19 of the country’s 50 states have recently passed or introduced legislation in anticipation of the ruling.
It is expected that New Jersey, which had brought the PASPA appeal to the Supreme Court, could have legalised sports betting at its racetracks in just a matter of weeks.
There is also the potential for tie-ups between broadcasters and bookmakers.
In the UK, pay-TV operator Sky launched its own sports betting platform when it acquired Sports Internet Group in 2000.
Last month, Sky Betting and Gaming was sold to Stars Group, the Canada-based gaming firm in a deal valued at £3.4 billion ($4.7 billion).
It is thought that US sports broadcasters such as ESPN and Fox Sports could launch betting operations.
Paddy Power Betfair, an established name in the UK market, has already stated that it is in "discussions" with FanDuel, the daily fantasy sports platform, about a possible merger of its US business with the fantasy site.
FanDuel is a lucrative target for bookmakers looking to enter the US market as it is already a known gaming brand.
Pressed on whether Perform could be making its first move in the US betting market in 2018, Ashenden said he “absolutely” envisioned things to “move quickly."
However, he acknowledged there were still issues to be worked through, saying: “The unknown for us is whether or not we’re involved as a holder of specific US rights, but we will certainly be involved to the extent that the legislative environment permits in terms of the delivery of sports content that we already hold the rights to in the US.”