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Media metadata company Gracenote has acquired two sports data firms — Netherlands-based Infostrada Sports and Canada-based SportsDirect — signalling its expansion beyond music and video data. The dual-acquisition will set Gracenote back “approximately” $54 million.

Infostrada Sports and SportsDirect are basically the “Gracenote of sports data,” so the deal makes sense. Infostrada Sports has a database covering more than 250 sports, and it includes info like results, biographical information on athletes, schedules, and play-by-play stats.

Founded in 1998, Gracenote first came to prominence as the company behind the database that automatically recognizes tracks on CDs inserted into a PC drive (it was formerly known as the Compact Disc Data Base [CDDB]). But it has provided data for a myriad of third-party services over the years, including iTunes Genius and in-car entertainment systems.

Sony snapped up the company in 2008 for north of $200 million, and Gracenote has grown steadily since then, entering partnerships with a range of high-profile companies, including Samsung, Google, Twitter, Spotify, and Hulu.

While music data was Gracenote’s origin, it has long since expanded into the TV and movie realm, covering areas such as TV listings and actors’ biographies.

Gracenote Sports

The expansion into sports data is a notable milestone in Gracenote’s journey, and it comes 18 months after sold by Sony to Tribune Media for $170 million.

Why would Gracenote expand into sports? Well, it’s an easy fit — the company already licences movie, music, and TV data to media and technology companies, and now it can do the same with sports. This means it will appeal to many more third-party operators, such as ESPN.

Between Infostrada Sports and SportsDirect, Gracenote can tap a wealth of statistical data from the likes of the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL), and European soccer.

Crucially, Gracenote already has a ton of partnerships in place that it can leverage with this expansion, covering cable and satellite companies, electronics manufacturers, and automobile makers. This deal, which could lead to new products including sports stats overlays on screens, or live alerts on your car dashboard, has been a long time coming.

“Our clients have been asking for Gracenote to add sports data to the music and video solutions that we already provide,” explains Gracenote CEO John Batter. “The acquisition of Infostrada Sports and SportsDirect will immediately position Gracenote to take a leadership role in the growing sports entertainment data market and will make Gracenote the only company to deliver a portfolio of music, video, and sports data.”

As an aside, the SportsDirect transaction also sees Gracenote acquire the Covers Media Group, a consumer-facing subsidiary that operates, an online sports gaming channel for results, odds, editorial, and news.

Data-driven business

Gracenote has a track-record of buying its competition. Last September it snapped up rival Baseline for $50 million for its movie & TV data platform. A month later, it targeted Australia for international expansion with the $19 million acquisition of HWW.

While Gracenote’s latest acquistions may not be surprising given the industry it operates in, it feeds into a bigger trend we’ve seen of late — the media industry really is all about data.

Back in January, Apple acquired U.K. media data startup Semetric, the company behind the Musicmetric music analytics platform, which will likely benefit the mooted relaunch of Beats Music. And in March last year, Spotify acquired The Echo Nest to better understand users’ listening habits.

For Gracenote, it’s bolstering its existing offering by procuring two of the big sports data players in North America and Europe. But more than that, its parent company — Tribune Media — already broadcasts sports from the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL, meaning it too will now have easy access to a rich dataset of all the athletes and teams involved. So it really is a win-win for all concerned.

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