MLB names MGM first official gaming partner as sports-gambling space heats up
- Major League Baseball (MLB) announced a multiyear partnership with MGM Resorts International that will make the hospitality chain the first official gaming and entertainment partner of the league, according to a news release. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- MGM will leverage the baseball league's official statistics feed and have access to enhanced stats exclusively. MLB logos and team logos will appear in MGM advertising and on the company's sportsbooks, and MGM will advertise across MLB's broadcast and digital platforms, including MLB Network, MLB.com and the MLB at-bat app. MGM also will have a presence at major events like the All-Star Game and World Series as part of the deal.
- While the sponsorship is exclusive, the basic data rights are not, and MLB plans to sell it to other operators, per ESPN. However, the advanced statistics, including exit velocity of a home run, speed around the bases and route efficiency to a ball hit into the field of play, will be exclusive to MGM and will be co-branded with the MLB.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting in May, leagues have been jumping at the opportunity to tap into the sports-gambling market and stoke fan engagement. MGM appears an early winner on the sportsbooking side of things: Tying up with the MLB follows a similar partnership forged with the NBA and WNBA in August, which features a series of integrations across the basketball league's platforms, including a digital content series. The NHL has also linked up with MGM as its official gaming sponsor.
Under the new pro baseball deal, MGM will receive exclusive statistics that could make it destination for betters looking for greater variety and granularity in their bets, along with access to some powerful advertising channels and closely-watched events like the World Series. For the MLB, making moves into the sports betting space could reignite fan interest that has waned in recent years.
The MLB has felt a pinch from the acceleration of cord-cutting, which has affected most of the major sports leagues. Unlike some of the other leagues, the MLB has struggled especially hard to court new, younger audiences. Those two factors together have taken some of the shine off of destination MLB events. The All-Star Game this year, for example, posted record-low ratings, though the steady decline in viewership could turn around if people have money placed on the game.
Indeed, media companies and analysts predict that legalized sports betting could help revitalize TV viewership of live games and create new opportunities for advertisers that boost revenue. Some experts also predict that leagues, teams, sports media and TV rights deals could grow their value and attract increased spending from daily fantasy sports sites following the lift on the federal ban.
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