Genius Sports, DraftKings announce key moves, results

Jay Dieffenbach

Two major companies with tentacles firmly attached to the booming U.S. sports betting industry continue to push their chips to the center of the table, and the results support their enthusiasm.

DraftKings Inc. and Genius Sports this week made news that keep them in the spotlight, with DraftKings’ earnings and Genius’ agreement to purchase Sports Spectrum in the spotlight.

DraftKings first-quarter revenue comes in comfortably ahead of expectations.

The company reported record revenue of $312 million during the first quarter and has raised its own expectations. DraftKings’ quarterly results topped industry estimates of $239.4 million, and the company expects $1.05 billion to $1.15 billion in revenue for the full year, which is a significant increase from a forecast of $900 million to $1 billion.

On the stock market, DraftKings’ robust spending in sales and marketing is seen as the biggest reason for a posted loss of 87 cents a share, worse than analysts’ estimate of 44 cents.

Despite a 52-week range of $23-$74, DraftKings stock’s Jan. 4 price of $43.86 is similar to the current price.

On Friday, shares rose as much as 3.1% in early trading before retreating and were down 5% at $49.24 nearing the closing bell.

The company saw a dramatic dropoff of more than a quarter of its value from a mid-March record high prior to Friday’s trading, but the stock had still more than doubled in the past year through Thursday.

In the sports betting industry, worries about how New York’s landscape will look, along with a lack of signature events such the Super Bowl and March Madness, have served to soften the numbers.

The fears raised for the industry as the world emerges from the global pandemic were largely unfounded – at least to this point – with sports gambling fans staying with their wagering hobbies that were in many cases greatly enhanced during the COVID crisis.

And DraftKings is still there for those bettors, with action on sports and games such as poker and blackjack a primary target.

“DraftKings is off to an outstanding start in 2021,” Chief Executive Officer Jason Robins said in a Friday statement, which included a reported 114% increase in monthly unique paying customers – now at 1.5 million and more than the average analyst forecast for 1.19 million.

The platform’s myriad options helped to propel the numbers, from daily fantasy sports, online sports betting to i-gaming, DraftKings said in the statement.

Genius Sports moving forward with purchase of video analytics platform

Genius Sports has reached a $200 million agreement to purchase Second Spectrum, whose investors include Los Angeles Clippers owner and former Microsoft leader Steve Ballmer.

With its reported $145 million in cash on its balance sheet, Genius Sports is not planning to slow its roll.

The Second Spectrum acquisition comes on the heels of an announcement Monday from Genius that it had bought FanHub, a free-to-play gaming platform.

Second Spectrum works with the NBA, the English Premier League and Major League Soccer and the purchase will come partially in cash and partially in Genius Sports stock, the company said Thursday.

Genius did not make clear whether Second Spectrum will be rebranded.

The driver for Genius’ interest lies among the data produced by Second Spectrum, which will serve Genius’ impetus to be more deeply involved in sports betting.

The company hopes to leverage faster, more reliable, proprietary feeds to help improve its sportsbook operations.

Second Spectrum, which specializes in turning video into data, has provided its content for ESPN as well as the Clippers to provide augmented reality viewing experiences for basketball and soccer.

“This acquisition supports our long-term strategic vision of utilizing AI tracking, enhanced data insights and transformative technology to revolutionize the sports data landscape for the fans, our customers and sports and media partners,” Genius Sports CEO Mark Locke said in a statement.

The London-based Genius Sports is largely dependent on the data feeds it sells to sportsbooks and media companies and has made major inroads in visibility.

Genius acquired exclusive rights from the NFL to distribute the league’s official data to sportsbooks across the globe.

The contract included more than $440 million in Genius stock.

A deeper look at how Genius plans to use Second Spectrum

According to a Sportico story, the key with Second Spectrum is that Genius can apply its resources toward sports betting, creating some truly outside-the-box wagering options.

Second Spectrum uses cameras installed in an arena or stadium to track the movement of the ball and players. That video is then turned into real-time data, with applications from coaching and scouting to fan engagement and augmented reality. In addition to Ballmer, the company’s investors include the Chernin Group, CAA Ventures and Elysian Park Ventures, a private investment firm created by Dodgers owners, including Todd Boehly, Mark Walter, Magic Johnson and Peter Guber.

Genius will likely also use that data to augment its betting feeds. It might become possible, for example, to wager on how many miles Chelsea star Christian Pulisic runs in a Premier League match, or bet on the top speed LeBron James reaches during an NBA game. More betting options—especially ones that aren’t offered by competitors—could give Genius more leverage when negotiating with sportsbooks.

According to the Sportico story, international law firm O’Melveny advised Genius Sports on the deal, which is expected close later in the second quarter.

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