Over the years, the NFL player looked like the gears of a heavy machine that is driving the league data revolution.
Now they have their skin in play, a company that captures and distributes real-time human data for commercial use by NFL Players Inc., a non-proprietary stakeholder in Sports Data Labs. This unprecedented deal by the NFL Players Association business team is expected to reshape the way players make money on their personal data.
“It’s the same way the industry has evolved as a result of the blockchain and the Web3,” Sean Sansiveri, NFL Players Inc.’s general counsel and head of business matters, said in a video interview. “Licensing player data is the next evolution of this innovation in licensing practices.”
Data from NFL players will be sold and distributed through Sports Data Lab technology, and the NFLPA hopes that this information will not only benefit members financially, but also from a health and wellness perspective. At the same time, the partnership will allow the association to ensure that any agreement is in line with its group licensing program.
Sansiveri says the partnership will go beyond popular products such as NFTs and collectors and identify other licensing options that need to be identified. Details of the deal were not disclosed, but it includes revenue sharing, equity and flexibility of duration.
Players don’t have to participate, but there are plenty of incentives; they will be paid through a rights structure and will receive a “healthy portion” of their revenue from new agreements that include their personal data.
NFL Players Inc., which earned $ 216 million in the last fiscal year, has a record growth for eight years in a row. The NFLPA believes that this recent investment in Sports Data Labs offers a new capability to license a wide range of products that will significantly increase Players Inc.’s performance.
“This is part of a plan to grow all the revenue that the union has in power, but also in the form of an income check for players,” he told Sansive.
The non-exclusive deal comes as fitness trackers and laptops that are more common in the sports world. NFL Players Inc. is in talks with sports analytics company BreakAway Data, which recently signed an agreement with XFL. The NFLPA also has partnerships with Whoop and Zebra Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ: ZBRA) with wearable technology company.
The data licensing market is mature. As more and more third-party companies are interested in taking advantage of the performance data collected, players will be able to make big profits from sports betting assets, digital trading cards and video games. The league is already working on agreements in all of these areas.
OneTeam Partners, an NFLPA team licensing partner, is not directly involved in this deal, but it is likely that one of the union’s existing video game partners will allow the data. For example, the NFL and NFLPA recently announced an agreement to create an NFT video game through Mythical Games.
The big data revolution, from biometrics to user contributions, has had an impact on collective bargaining in professional sports. The language introduced in the last CBA in the NFL, signed two years ago, has provided a clearer picture that opens the door to more effective opportunities for players to make money. Revenue sharing in agreements between third-party companies has been a point of interest for the union a few years ago, but advances in analytical technology and recent market demands are bringing these data-related partnerships to the forefront before the 2022 season.
Crunchbas data shows that funding for Sports Data Labs reached $ 4 million in 2019, with the support of Aser Ventures, a London-based investment firm with relationships with 49ers Enterprises (the business hub of the San Francisco 49ers). He has also previously collaborated with the ATP Tour, PGA Tour and Professional Squash Association.