Data now in demand more than ever in the omni-channel landscape
29th July 2015 - SIS
Quality, consistency and speed are vital in today’s omni-channel, in-play landscape, says Rachel Coulson, Head of Business Data, who recently spoke to iNTERGAMINGi on the subject of official data.
It doesn’t seem so long ago that the changing room door closed on the 2014/15 football season, but we’ll soon see the turnstiles revolve again for this year’s big kick-off.
For operators, the new season will again see an increase in demand for data. They want to differentiate from their competitors, offering more markets, more in-play, more statistics and more information than ever to their customers.
The global rise of watch-and-bet sports bettors is causing a logistical challenge for sportsbooks, as data suppliers scramble to offer detailed pre-match analysis, in-running data and post-match statistics.
Advertisements and hoardings heralding up-to-the-second odds continue to encourage the relatively new, young breed of bettor who looks for that quick gambling opportunity. Bringing those odds together quickly, and correctly, relies on the ability of the data supplier to deliver statistics in a way that keeps their client ahead of the competitor.
As new features come into the betting and gaming sector, such as omni-channel consumption or video streaming, the demands on data suppliers are also becoming increasingly complex, encompassing not just statistics, but also visualisation and covering a number of delivery methods, from satellite to fibre and beyond.
Masses of data is useless if the information isn’t robust and reliable. The added increase in demand for constant sporting action throughout the year on a 24/7 basis means that more and more obscure sporting events are making their way into sportbooks and, with limited TV or media coverage of these events in some cases, punters place a large amount of trust in their bookmaker that the statistics will be absolutely correct.
The considerations for operators on where they obtain their data are numerous, but suppliers look to fulfil on three core counts – quality, consistency and speed.
Quality of information is of paramount importance, which is why we’re now seeing leagues and governing bodies set up official data feeds to exclusively collect and deliver high-class, corroborated information around the globe.
This means that the sports rights holders can remain in complete control of both pictures and data to deliver better value to partners and sponsors.
In official data partnerships, both rights-holders and data companies become incentivised to protect their intellectual property. This has led to many taking steps to engage cyber-security groups, such as COMSEC, to ensure unofficial data scouts are identified and removed from stadiums.
Ahead of the 2014/15 season, we at SIS announced a deal with LaLiga to exclusively provide data from Spanish football’s top two leagues and cup competitions. Through efforts made alongside the governing body and COMSEC, a record number of unofficial scouts were removed from Spanish football grounds last season, and they will be looking to do the same this campaign.
The result is that operators can be completely confident in the feeds they receive, provided they’re from an official source. We’ve seen the same in other sports, such as tennis, which has seen a number of scouts removed from courtside.
Both quality and reliability issues can be a feature of unsanctioned data, as scouts in stadia attempt to dodge the authorities, while simultaneously calling or tapping in statistical information. If mistakes creep in, or if data feeds are interrupted mid-event as scouts are ejected, the loss of trust from punters in the authority of sportsbooks can make a stark mark on brand reliability and loyalty and, in turn, an operator’s bottom line.
Official sources also guard against the more unsavoury aspect of data collection: manipulation by illegal syndicates. While the numbers are low, these are a reality that is being stamped out by the efforts of sports-rights holders, operators and data suppliers alike.
Data partners can be held accountable by their clients, offering a much greater degree of confidence, trust and transparency.
The clampdown on unofficial data from governing bodies is pushing the unsanctioned scouts from clandestine viewpoints in the terraces to a reliance on TV pictures to collect their data.
Data feeds from ‘off-tube’ sources – essentially gathering data from television pictures – can be critically slow, often four to six seconds behind live data. In addition, sanctioned data companies also have high-quality, often hard-wired, delivery technology at their disposal, which gives them a crucial advantage over unofficial sources.
Even within stadiums, unofficial scouts won’t have access to the superfast broadband and facilities that the official scouts will be privy to, meaning 4G or public Wi-Fi will be the best options for connectivity available on site.
Innovative real-time solutions now ensure that, from an official provider such as us, laborious quality checks are a thing of the past, ensuring the lowest latency currently possible.
In our capacity as the official data provider for LaLiga, we handle data for more than 2,500 matches a season, as well as delivering on core products such as horseracing from across the world and UK greyhound racing. With almost 30 years’ experience, we’ve seen data and picture demands explode, from retail to online, from broadcast to streaming video and from UK-based betting to a now local, global gambling industry.
SIS has developed proprietary software which allows super-fast data collection by official scouts in-stadia. This allows operators to ensure that their trading teams are working with the most up-to-date information possible, often beating unofficial data scouts by 20 seconds or more – enabling timely suspension of bets.
More information will be made available to bettors constantly, from up-to-the-second weather reports to extensive real-time match statistics covering everything from possession percentages to number of shots on target.
The gambling public has never had so much data at its fingertips. But, for it to work, sportsbooks will also need to return to those core pillars – quality, consistency and speed.
To read the article in iNTERGAMINGi, click here
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