Sports technology company Genius Sports has partnered with the National Basketball Association league in Africa, through which the company will provide official real-time statistics and integrate new technology.
The deal, announced Monday, could be the first step in introducing a wave of new sports data and gaming features to media and gambling companies.
UK-based Genius works with media companies to improve broadcasting and provides data to sports betting to determine bets. The partnership with Basketball Africa League does not extend to sports betting, but Genius intends to use the agreement to roll out new artificial intelligence-based technology, including augmented reality features.
Financial terms of the deal were not provided.
“Through this partnership, Genius Sports will provide the BAL with its FIBA LiveStats data collection tool, which will be used to capture advanced play-by-play stats from the court at every BAL match, including shot, foul, and revenue venues to highlight the competition’s top performers and provide critical updates for fans to follow the live action,” the company said.
Last month, Genius Sports signed a $1.5 billion deal with a special-purpose acquisition company to go public. It is now traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol GENI. The company has a market cap of $3.2 billion and its chairman is former Turner Sports CEO David Levy.
Genius is a big player in the sport. This deal allows the company to innovate with BAL and engage viewers on the second and third screens. Genius has clients including top sports betting Penn National, DraftKings and Fan Duel, and networks such as Disney’s ESPN and ViacomCBS.
Genius paid $200 million to acquire Second spectrum, which is supported by Steve Ballmer. Already working with the NBA, Second Spectrum uses artificial intelligence and player tracking via high-definition cameras in areas to collect data. The company is also behind the technology used for ESPN’s NBA Marvel broadcast.
Ballmer, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and former CEO of Microsoft, will remain as a shareholder after the acquisition. In 2018, Ballmer helped create “Clippers CourtVison“, a second-screen experience that gives subscribers to regional sports networks the ability to view and consume games in multiple ways using real-time stats and AR features, giving viewers more control.
With Genius securing the exclusive data rights to the National Football League in April, it could attempt to roll out Second Spectrum in professional football, unlocking a wide range of new data and camera angles with the technique. Also, media networks like ESPN are shifting to more second-screen capabilities with streaming, positioning for betting and gamification viewing experiences.
Now that Genius owns the deep data and technology, it positions itself to capitalize. The company has built the NBA’s next-generation statistics system and plans to introduce new features for BAL’s viewing experiences.
The league kicked off its inaugural season last weekend, postponed a year due to Covid-19. The NBA partnered with the International Basketball Federation to create BAL in 2019. The competition will consist of two conferences, and 12 teams. The top six clubs compete in a one-match elimination tournament after the season to determine the champion. Amadou Gallo Fall is president of the competition.
“The BAL will showcase and develop the most exciting talent from across African basketball, and we are very proud that our statistics technology will be at the heart of this new competition,” said Mark Locke, CEO of Genius Sports.
Genius Sports will have its first call for profit on May 20. Shares of the company were up 6% Friday, closing at $18.35 per share.
Disclosure: CNBC parent company Comcast and NBC Sports are investors in FanDuel.