The value of official data for sportsbooks is more in the cross-promotional opportunities it entails than the data itself. A newly-announced William Hill partnership with the NBA is proof of that.

On Wednesday, Oct. 2, the two parties announced they were joining forces. And it’s a win for both.

William Hill is named an “authorized sports betting operator of the NBA” and the NBA gets its official data in the William Hill spotlight.

“William Hill is a globally respected brand that has set an early standard for sports betting in the US market,” said Scott Kaufman-Ross, senior vice president and head of Fantasy & Gaming for the NBA. 

“We are delighted to partner with William Hill as they grow their business throughout the US and are excited to work together to provide a world-class experience to our fans.”

Why the William Hill-NBA deal works both ways

For William Hill sportsbook, the partnership adds power to its brand.

The NBA will promote William Hill on its digital properties, including its app, social media accounts, and website.

The NBA gets some of the same treatment on William Hill’s digital properties, in addition to whatever fee the sportsbook paid to enter the sponsorship deal.

New Jersey sports betting fans won’t notice much difference in the app or retail locations. The same goes for all 10 states that William Hill is currently active.

The bigger win for the NBA is that it has convinced one of the nation’s biggest sportsbooks that official data is worth paying for.

Given how the league has largely failed in its lobbying efforts on that front, it’s a good consolation prize.

How the NBA lobbied for official data mandates

In several states, the NBA hired lobbyists to convince legislators to include desired language in bills regulating sports betting. For the most part, those efforts have failed so far.

The NBA’s official data is provided by Sportradar, an international company that provides data collection and reporting services. Other companies offer similar services, but Sportradar has an exclusive deal with the NBA.

There are some states, such as Tennessee, which will require sportsbooks to purchase official data to set in-game bets. The NBA tried to get mandates like that for all bets, however, and in more states.

The NBA’s lobbying fell short because it failed to establish that official data was in any way superior to unofficial data. It also never firmly explained how they would use the funds to improve the product.

In short, it was simply the NBA trying to get as big of a cut of sports betting revenue as it could.

NBA + sports betting deals

While those lobbying efforts have fallen short, the NBA has resorted to competing with other data providers on the open market. The result is that the pro basketball league has deals in place with MGM Resorts, Fox Bet (The Stars Group), and FanDuel.

The partnership with William Hill is another major victory for that mission.

Unlike Sportradar’s partnership with the NBA, this sponsorship deal has no exclusivity to it either way.

The NBA is free to offer similar deals to other sportsbooks (which it has already done), and William Hill can promote other leagues, even other basketball leagues, on its digital properties.

It also shows why it’s redundant if not unnecessary for state governments to mandate sportsbooks to purchase the NBA’s official data. If the product does have greater value than its competitors, sportsbooks will buy it on their own.

The real value in the William Hill-NBA partnership

While the data itself may essentially be the same product, the cross-promotional opportunities are what set partnerships like this apart.

Other sportsbooks could feel disadvantaged by not having their brands in front of the eyes of NBA fans. That’s what they may be willing to pay for, not the data.

Either way, it’s new revenue for the NBA. And if the exposure William Hill gets from the NBA’s digital properties leads to more wagers being placed at its book, the investment will have paid off.

Derek Helling

About

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. In addition to gaming news, he covers esports, sports business and sports law. When he isn’t working, he spends his time collecting basketball cards and helping his wife Audrey serve their two Munchkin cat overlords.