SEEING THE FIELD

Professional tennis has a match-fixing issue, the effects of which may impact the sports tech segment. Following a two-year review, an independent panel determined that there is a “tsunami” of fixed matches at the game’s lower levels. Most notably, the panel suggested that the ITF (the sport’s governing body) eliminate its data rights deal with Sportradar (a five-year, $70M pact). It’s the panel’s opinion that this type of data deal facilitates betting at all levels. From the ITF (or other rights holder’s) perspectives, the data rights represent significant revenue, and Sportradar argues that their services further the integrity of the sport(s), not diminish it.

Access to live or near real-time data is becoming ubiquitous across sports. Moreover, as the global gaming industry evolves (and perhaps takes shape in the U.S.), accurate and transparent data is pivotal to the industry. It’s highly unlikely that the ITF/Sportradar follow the panel’s suggestion, but this will be an increasingly important discussion.


TOP PLAYS
  • SidelineSwap, an online marketplace for sporting goods and apparel, closed a $5M Series A, bringing total funding to ~$9M (we’re investors and participated in this round). As brick and mortar retailers in the segment have struggled, SidelineSwap’s digital solution creates liquidity in the sporting goods segment. They’ve expanded new and used inventory across sports while unlocking opportunity for sellers of all types.

  • PlaySight, the video and analytics company out of Israel, raised $10M from SoftBank and others, extending their Series C round to a total of $21M. PlaySight, which started in tennis, now has ‘smartcourt’ solutions for 25 sports.

  • Religion of Sports Media, the production company led by Tom Brady and Michael Strahan, raised $3M in funding. What started as an initial documentary (called the Religion of Sports) is now a business with a handful of projects completed (including Tom vs. Time) and aspirations to become a content network.

  • Singapore-based MMA company One Championship is raising $100M at a reported valuation near $1B. The UFC competitor had previously raised ~$100M total and and has media deals with Fox Sports Asia and Twitter.


THE SPRINT
  • There’s a bidding war for Sky as Comcast made a $30B offer for Britain’s largest paid network – the offer is a 16% premium over Fox’s previous bid. Now it’s Fox (and Disney’s) move as Sky was part of the proposed Disney/Fox merger. Major implications in the sports media rights involved here.

  • Mid-market PE firm Fulcrum Capital acquired Athletica Sport Systems, a Canadian company that specializes in sports facility products. Athletica provides board systems and arena supplies for hockey and soccer venues, including relationships with the NHL and AHL.