Key Points for Selecting a Sports Data Provider

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By Russel Karp
Vice President, Media & Entertainment
Key Points for Selecting a Sports Data Provider

As legalized sports betting expands throughout the United States, the value of game data is growing exponentially. From managers and teams to sportsbooks and media agencies, virtually everyone in the industry now relies on sports data to prosper. In addition, experts predict that in-game betting will quickly become popular in the U.S. Companies that can allow bets on precisely when a goal is scored, who had the assist, and other specific details can increase their profile massively through enhanced fan engagement and the resulting growth in revenue.

The Big Players

Considering the enormous sports betting market potential, an increasing number of sports data providers are entering the field. Although smaller companies are jumping in with innovative solutions, several prominent players continue to dominate the sector.

Sportsradar boasts a massive reach in the data supplier realm, featuring global coverage of more than 40 sports, 800+ leagues, and an incredible 400,000+ events per year.

STATS has been deeply immersed in the business of collecting and distributing sports data for over 35 years, offering customized solutions via its database of more than 600 global leagues.

Genius Sports aims to increase the potential of data through the use of cutting-edge technology that reduces match-fixing and betting-related corruption while providing access to information from over 500 sports organizations in more than 100 countries.

Opta is another global sports data supplier providing customizable widgets and analytical metrics for 110,000+ events per year, in addition to offering editorial services and a focus on powerful visualization tools.

Selecting the right sports data provider to match your specific needs and goals can make the difference between winning and losing. The task can be a challenging prospect with many essential points to consider.

  1. If you want to play the game, the data you work with must not only be accurate and reliable but should be collected and delivered with real-time speed, thereby staying significantly ahead of the typical five-to-ten second TV broadcasting delay.

    While some data suppliers, such as Sportsradar, continue to use the services of more than 7,000 “data journalists,” who are gathering and disseminating information during an event, this human element is quickly becoming automated. Reacting to developments in a game in real-time and subsequently offering betting odds at a rapid pace is an incredibly complex undertaking, leading technology consulting and development experts to work diligently on increasing the automation of these tasks while speeding up the overall process to allow wagering on an expanding number of details per event. For example, Opta’s analysts use specific data collection video software. STATS have just announced a deal with the Orlando Magic providing the Magic with exclusive access to AutoSTATS, a revolutionary new artificial intelligence technology for collecting data.

    Simultaneously, new partnerships are announced in an attempt to send reliable and secure sports data from leagues and teams directly to data services and sportsbooks. Thus, Sportradar serves as the official partner to more than 65 leagues and federations worldwide, including the NBA, NFL, NHL and NASCAR as well as FIFA and UEFA. The company is also the only provider who works with the US sports leagues in an official capacity to distribute sports data (NBA and NHL) and AV rights (MLB) around the world for betting purposes.

  2. Depending on your needs, selecting proper statistics and metrics may be another critical success factor. The availability of some specific stats can be key selection criteria for the model of your business. While most providers share live scores, fixtures & results, line-ups, standings, live stats, commentaries, sports charts, and individual player data may be limited depending on the team or league.
  3. Data quality is another essential factor to consider while selecting a sports data provider. You may define your own criteria for acceptable quality, but data completeness, uniqueness (no duplicated data), consistency, accuracy and relevancy are the factors that can help you succeed or lose. The decision to make is whether you are ready to pay a high price for better quality from a leader on the market or willing to apply more efforts into managing quality of data provided by a smaller and less known company.
  4. Flexible data formats and delivery methods will have a long-term effect on the ease of data handling in your system. The most popular data delivery formats you may choose from are XML, JSON, and CSV. At the same time, you may look for APIs and widgets that would allow seamless integration of data feeds into your existing systems. Just make sure these APIs may be easily implemented and customized to meet your needs.
  5. Facing competition, sports data providers often offer additional services. If you are building a complicated system for betting, consider data partners who have such special offers like predictive analytics, history data, 24/7 customer support, packages or special flexible deals and free trials.

Without a reliable data provider, your business is open to a trememendous amount of risk. However, finding a data partner which meets all your goals may help you speed up your time to market without the hassle of looking for tech experts.

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