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Artificial Intelligence is the future of sports analytics, Sportradar CEO says

Carsten KoerlSportradar CEO Carsten Koerl says that the backing he’s secured from the Canada Pension Plan and growth equity firm TCV will be crucial to his company’s success in the rapidly developing sports analytics sector.

Sportradar last week announced that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) would be teaming up with Silicon Valley investment company TCV to acquire a 39 per cent stake in the Switzerland-based sports data company. With an estimated value of $2.4 billion, the CPPIB and TCV share of Sportradar amounts to about $936 million (all figures in US dollars).

As the official data supplier to many of the larger sports leagues, including the NBA, NFL, NHL, NASCAR, FIFA and UEFA, Sportradar is well-placed with in the growing sports analytics sector, says Ryan Selwood of CPPIB.

“The sports data market, particularly real-time data, is a compelling long-term investment opportunity with strong growth driven by rising fan engagement, opening of new markets and increasing spending on digital sports content globally,” said Selwood, Managing Director, Head of Direct Private Equity for CPPIB, in a statement. “We are excited to partner with Carsten and look forward to supporting his innovative vision for Sportradar by further investing into artificial intelligence and global expansion.”

Koerl says that the deal makes sense on the Sportradar end, as well, particularly when it comes to AI and machine learning. “For me, it was important to secure now the partners for the next step of our growth which for us is a plan for five to seven years. So, it’s very, very important to us to have two partners now that are really long term,” Koerl told Cheddar recently.

“Everybody is talking about cloud transformation, and with the big data that we get now, it’s growing exponentially,” says Koerl. “So we have to look at transforming our systems, so TCV is a perfect partner. They did this with a lot of companies.”

“We have to work on artificial intelligence and machine learning so this is getting more and more important to replace human beings with sensoric input and this is the stuff we have to work on over the next years,” he says.

Sportradar already has a number of notable shareholders, including NBA star Michael Jordan, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

The company also has interests in the sports betting world, as it provides data services to bookmakers through its Betradar brand. Koerl says that both the entertainment and betting sides of sports can take advantage of advanced analytics.

“Analytics in sport are getting more and more important. You can use that for betting purposes and you can also use that to tell a different story of the match,” he says.

“You can calculate now with sensoric devices energy used in the matches, so you can say, is there an NFL team, two minutes before the finish line, with an energy level of 95 or 97 per cent? This is something which is highly useful for sports betting or entertainment purposes,” he says. “I think what you see now in sports betting is an acceleration of this element of how can you apply more machine learning that you can integrate more precisely, more accurately with all the information which is now available.”

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About The Author /

Jayson MacLean
Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.

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