DFL and Deltatre take Sportec Solutions joint venture global for data provision services across all sports
The Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) has worked in partnership with fan-first experience provider Deltatre to extend their Sportec Solutions collaboration out to the global market.
DFL, which is responsible for organising and marketing the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, created Sportec Solutions with Deltatre as an independent joint venture in 2016. It was conceived as an innovation-focused internal lab, tasked with improving data deployment in German football.
For the first time, products from Sportec Solutions will be available to the international market, meaning global leagues and federations can benefit from services that were previously offered exclusively in Germany. This will allow organisations to develop their own data provision services, to drive greater revenue from their content while optimising their officiating services.
Deltatre will assume operational and commercial responsibilities for the business outside of Germany. The strong ongoing collaboration sees Deltatre managing director, Christian Holzer, and Dr Hendrik Weber serving as joint managing directors of Sportec.
Growing concern and knowhow
Weber tells SVG Europe about Sportec’s growth: “Since its inception, Sportec Solutions has operated on behalf of DFL Group, distributing data to clubs, licensees, and partners of DFL. In recent years, there has been an even greater focus and professionalisation in the area of data collection and use. In contrast to many other leagues, the official match data is now made available to the media, the clubs and other licensees to drive additional value for fans and in revenue.
“During the past four years we have built up sophisticated products and knowhow, powered by expertise from both Deltatre and the DFL. Naturally, this is something we have spoken about with other leagues and federations around the world,” Weber went on. “Now, of course, it is in everyone’s interest to offer the knowhow to external parties and to provide added value from the innovations and products built up over the years. This step towards internationalisation was therefore very obvious and logical.”
Sportec Solutions has grown not just in reputation but also in staff numbers, with 70 full time staff in Germany, along with an additional 150 freelancers.
It has evolved this year, in spite of the pandemic. Says Weber: “Despite the challenges that 2020 has presented us with, work has continued apace. The Bundesliga was the first among the top professional football leagues to resume competition and Sportec Solutions played a significant role in helping the league to get started.
“It worked studiously to evaluate average contact time between players during a game, for example, in turn informing the League’s approach to handling the pandemic. We worked to provide sophisticated algorithm and analytics which explored player contact and player-to-player distance on the field.
“Playing to its conclusion, though in different circumstances, with reduced fan numbers, meant that our data provision took on a new level of importance,” Weber goes on. “Data was crucial in understanding how players and teams were adapting to the ‘new normal’, and how games unfolded in a different atmosphere.”
Expansion in all sports
On why DFL and Deltatre decided to make this move outside of Germany, Weber says: “The market continues to grow. Data is not only crucial to teams, coaches and players in terms of understanding performance, but also for the media and broadcasters. It augments their offering to fans at home, helping them paint a more vivid pictures of what is really happening on the field.
“Different federations and leagues may require different solutions – in terms of infrastructure and specific technology – but it’s important to remember that Sportec Solutions has experience from one of the most important football leagues in the world which it can apply.”
He goes on: “It is important to remember that Deltatre works with leading organisations across sport; not just in football. And indeed, that will continue with Sportec Solutions. The technology, product and services are not just limited to one sport; a great benefit and strength of the venture is that it can be applied elsewhere.”
Sportec Solutions offers advanced gathering, storage, analysis, distribution, and analytics of live match data to clubs, licensees, partners, and clients. In addition, it is responsible for the Bundesliga’s innovative officiating technology, which includes goal line technology (GLT) and centralised video assistant referee (VAR) services. The technology support behind officiating systems such as VAR and GLT will become available to those federations that want to implement it.
Deltatre will assume responsibility for the business development, commercialisation and account management of Sportec Solutions outside of DACH. Deltatre is connected to leading sports teams, rights holders, broadcasters around the world across many different sports and, as such, has augmented its offering across the full ecosystem of sport content creation, distribution and consumption over the last four decades.
At the same time, the DFL has a strong international network with federations, leagues, and clubs. Adds Weber: “Of course, the leading work that Sportec Solutions does with the Bundesliga will continue.”
As part of a renewed agreement, Deltatre has also taken the majority shareholding of Sportec Solutions. Previously, DFL held the majority shareholding in Sportec, whereas now Deltatre holds it. Adds Weber: “However, the new arrangement does not change the everyday activities and operations of the business. This step enables the next evolutionary step for Sportec Solutions, one in which we operate as a joint venture, with Deltatre leading on commercial and operational responsibilities outside of Germany.
“It is important to be clear that the collaboration continues to be a strong one and there has been a clear statement of intent from both parties to continue investing in the product,” he notes.
Weber continues: “Of course, both sides would not have taken this step if they did not see growth opportunities. We believe in the opportunities that sports data brings and are convinced that this market continues to offer great potential. In principle, Sportec will act as a standalone joint venture with two strong shareholders.”
Controlling data and monetisation
For sports organisations that want to control their own event data and associated monetisation opportunities, Sportec is the answer, claims Weber. “The need for strong data provision is more pressing than ever; it’s crucial other leagues and federations can increase their data capabilities in order to continue delivering value to fans, rights holders, owners and other partners.”
He adds: “Different federations and leagues may require a solution in the field of sports technology and Sportec Solutions has experience from one of the most important football leagues in the world.
“It is important to remember that Sportec Solutions does not sell the data itself, but rather it provides services and products that allow the collection and dissemination of it. We provide a technological solution that gives the rights holder the opportunity to permanently commercialise their own content,” Weber concludes.
As for 2021, the future looks bright according to Weber: “While we can’t give specific names, we’re having encouraging and positive proactive conversations with new and existing clients across the globe. Of course, no one can say for sure what 2021 will bring, but regardless of what happens, federations and teams – across all sports – will need sophisticated data provision.”
Giampiero Rinaudo, CEO at Deltatre, adds: “The pace of development and innovation from Sportec Solutions has been extraordinary. The partnership has been productive since its inception. We’re committed to expanding the service to other leagues and federations around the world in collaboration with the DFL, and to helping players, clubs, fans, and broadcasters gain unparalleled insight into the sport they love.
“Deltatre’s further investment underlines our belief that data collection, distribution, and analysis are all fundamental parts of the fan experience evolution.”
Since it was founded, Sportec Solutions has collected data on Germany’s top two divisions since the 2017-2018 season. On average, nearly 65 million data points are gathered during every Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 match day, with 3.6 million collected on average per game. Sportec Solutions’ archive is one of the largest sports data sets worldwide with more than 5,000 football matches of full coverage.