Gracenote Puts Up $54M for Two Sports Data Firms

New ‘Gracenote Sports’ Unit to Have Global Focus
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Complementing its global base of video and music data, Gracenote is expanding into the wide, wide world of sports stats and information through the acquisitions of Infostrada Statistics B.V. and SportsDirect Inc. for a combined $54 million.

The transaction also includes Covers Media Group, which runs Covers.com, a North America-focused provider of sports scores, odds and matchups data, and analysis and news.

In concert, Gracenote, a unit of Tribune Media Company that counts Rovi among its competitors, said it has launched a new unit called “Gracenote Sports.”

The deals will provide Gracenote and its partners, which include several MVPDs, stats and other data from sporting events around the world that can be applied to advanced user interfaces running on set-top boxes and tablets and other connected devices.

Infostrada Sports, based in the Netherlands, focuses on data tied to the Olympics and European football, spanning 250 sports in 17 languages. SportsDirect of Halifax, Nova Scotia, cultivates sports data from more than 50 leagues and 2,000 teams across the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA, National Hockey League, NCAA, soccer, golf, auto racing and tennis. Its clients include Thomson Reuters and USA Today, as well as fantasy sites, sports books and ad networks, Gracenote said.

Gracenote made the acquisitions as its partners, which include consumer electronics companies, MVPDs and music services, expressed interest in the sports vertical. MVPDs, in particular, were interested in sports data they could integrate into their new UIs and drive tune-in capabilities, John Batter, Gracenote’s CEO, said.

That trend is already well underway, with examples that include Comcast and its Sports App for the X1 platform, and Dish Network, which has integrated an app from Thuuz Sports on its Hopper platform that tells viewers when sporting events are trending based on excitement level ratings. Amplifying this trend is OneTwoSee, a Philadelphia-based startup that specializes in interactive apps that sync up contextual data with live sports broadcasts; its partners include Fox Sports, LG Electronics, NBC Sports, YES Network, and Comcast, which uses OneTwoSee’s platform to power its Sports Extras app, also delivered on the IP-capable X1 platform.

Gracenote will look to differentiate in this area with a sports data service that spans the globe.

“To be in the sports business we needed a global data footprint for our customers,” Batter said, adding that Gracenote viewed its acquisitions of Infostrada Statistics and SportsDirect as “strategically connected.”

In addition to providing real-time scores in an MVPD’s UI, Batter said its access to global sports data will also enable its MVPD partners to drive tune-ins based on the excitement level of a sporting event, an approach that is seemingly competitive with the focus of Thuuz Sports’s Ultimate Sports Guide.

“The guide really becomes your interface to everything that is connected to what the fan is interested in,” Batter said.

Gracenote said its new bevy of sports data will also enable it to deliver statistical overlays on mobile devices and connected cars.

Batter said both Infostrada Statistics B.V. and SportsDirect are profitable and that about 350 full-time and part-time employees will be joining Gracenote through the deal, expanding Gracenote’s workforce to about 1,500.

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