IMG Arena, the sports betting arm of the IMG agency, and ATP Media, the ATP Tour’s international media-rights sales and broadcast production arm, have developed a virtual ATP Masters 1000 tennis product for the betting market.
The game, which will be available next month, has been created as bookmakers worldwide continue to be hit by the dearth of live sports action amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Freddie Longe, IMG Arena’s managing director, said today (Monday) that it is the “world’s first officially branded virtual tennis product”.
IMG Arena said that it would use “licensed assets to create the first-ever officially branded virtual tennis product, featuring logos from the ATP Masters 1000 series along with official tournament names, to deliver an authentic, fan-first experience”.
In 2018, IMG signed an agreement with 3D sports content developer Leap Gaming to add additional services to the existing live streaming and data offered by IMG Arena across different sports.
The ATP Tour remains suspended until at least June 7.
Mark Webster, ATP Media’s chief executive, remarked: “This is a landmark agreement for ATP Media at a challenging time. We are excited to be working with IMG Arena to deliver fans around the world innovative content and new ways to enjoy their favourite tennis tournaments.
“Together we are creating a compelling, always-on product that will boost and diversify our sports betting offering, while helping to continue to further develop our international footprint.”
Longe added: “When we invested in virtual sports specialists Leap Gaming, our vision was to create official products and unlock new revenue streams and forms of fan engagement for our clients…
“…the result is a game-changing product that maximises player engagement and operator returns.”
IMG’s portfolio of virtual products also includes cycling, football, golf, greyhound racing, horse racing and motorsport.
In the middle of 2019, it emerged that IMG was negotiating a heavyweight 10-year betting streaming and data rights agreement with the ATP Tour.
As part of the strategic partnership signed by IMG Arena and Leap Gaming in June 2018, IMG Arena acquired an equity stake in the company. The tie-up also included working closely together on sales and product development initiatives.
Leap Gaming offers 13 virtual sports products currently.