The need for quality and reliable data feeds


SIS’ Head of Product, Marc Thomas, writes in iGaming Business about the need to ensure that, as demand continues to grow for data in all corners of the betting industry, it is important to maintain the quality and reliability of feeds.

Having a robust, reliable, and fast data feed is the desire of every sportsbook operator in the industry. As competition increases, and more and more customers bet in-play on multiple sports and markets, the quality of those data feeds has never been more important.

In-play betting now makes up an increasingly higher percentage of sportsbook activity, as half-time and pitchside advertising gives casual punters up-to-the second odds on everything from the next goal scorer to the next wicket to fall.

To meet this growing demand, a number of new data feed companies have entered the supply chain. But this in turn has brought concerns about quality and reliability.

There are numerous considerations for operators to weigh up before choosing which data supplier to bring in to feed their all-important trading teams and sportsbooks.

One area to consider, in particular, is the growing trend among sports rights holders to control the distribution of both pictures and data to deliver better value to partners and sponsors.

Many rights holders are taking steps to protect their intellectual property and have engaged cyber-security groups such as COMSEC to ensure that unofficial data scouts are identified and removed from stadiums.

Recently, the newly-renamed governing body of the top two leagues in Spain, LaLiga, announced that they had detained a record number of unofficial data scouts from stadiums. It is the same across other sports too, including tennis, which has seen a number of courtside ejections in recent times.

Data sources that are not sanctioned by the rights holders of the sport or competition in question can suffer from reliability and quality issues, which can be crippling for sportsbooks. Unofficial data feeds are usually provided by in-stadia scouts hoping to avoid the authorities as they surreptitiously tap or call in statistical information.

In a small number of cases these unofficial data scouts have been manipulated by illegal betting syndicates, looking to get an edge on in-play betting. While instances such as these shouldn’t be exaggerated, it does call into question some of those unsavoury aspects behind the data feeds and fuels the need for greater transparency.

The consequences of data feeds being interrupted in the middle of a big match could have serious financial and reputational repercussions.

A single negative incident for operators – be it interruptions to service or manipulation of unofficial data scouts – can erode customer trust, significantly affecting the bottom line.

Slow data feeds can be equally crippling to the finances of sportsbooks. Off-tube data scouting is inherently slow, not least due to the four to six second in-built latency of television. In-stadium scouts who are unofficial will not have access to accredited areas, limiting their ability in some cases to see the full pitch, which can also slow down data.

However, the industry as a whole is taking steps to fight back against data manipulation. Unofficial data scouting is now under huge scrutiny, and operators and suppliers alike are working to ensure all of their sources are accurate.

Another consideration sportsbooks must make is the rise of watch-and-bet habits of sports bettors, which can be a logistical challenge for sportsbooks across the globe, particularly when you drill down into information required, ranging from pre-match analysis, in-running data, and post-match statistics.

At SIS, in our capacity as the official data provider of Spanish football, we handle data for more than 2,500 matches a season, as well as the core products of horseracing from around the world and British greyhound racing. A difficult task for some, but we have been delivering this data for nearly 30 years and have significant experience of getting it right.

Official data solutions will pay huge dividends over time to sportsbooks as they often grant access to cutting edge technical solutions and systems. They also give operator trading teams access to faster and more accurate data feeds.

Gone are the days of laborious quality checks slowing down the data, as innovative real-time solutions ensure that official data now boasts the lowest latency around.

We have developed proprietary software at SIS, which 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.

Over the coming 12 months increasing amounts of data will be made available to customers, as growing numbers look to analyse available information before placing their bets. As well as up to the second weather reports and the latest team news, customers will have access to real time in-play match statistics to help inform their in-play betting, such as possession percentages, areas of possession and number of shots on and off target.

These will be great incentives to bet. But for the sportsbooks the key to success will always be having robust data feeds that are reliable and fast.

Find out more about our Spanish football data products and services, by requesting an information pack.

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