Plenty of baseball fans and lower league football stattos have been collating their own stats for years. These ‘anoraks’ do it simply from their love of the game. Opta have taken this stat analysis within football to a whole new level and now there is a much larger market for statistics covering every facet of any game.
Fans have already begun to use media such as Twitter and Facebook to share events as they happen. Opta and Football Data Co make a lot of money from providing real-time live scores as well as intricate statistical analysis on Premier League and Champions League games amongst others. The biggest market for this data has traditionally been bookmakers who need the fastest and most accurate data from games in order to adjust their live in play betting odds as well as ensuring that their odds are as accurate as possible the rest of the time. Now, even news organisations such as the BBC are using Opta for their live scores and stats.
To date Perform, the parent company of Opta, have had a monopoly on the market. They pay a large sums of money to be allowed to provide this data, in turn they make a decent profit on the data that they do provide.
By crossing the social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter with the traditional stattos and anoraks it may be that their reign is about to come to a sudden end.
Twitter has made it apparent that fans want a dedicated medium to enable them to share the scores. It has even become a contest to see who can share the goals as they go in fastest.
This crowd-sourced data is especially valuable at a lower league level where it is not in the interest of large media companies to cover the games in detail. But a community of fans combined with a sharing platform is enabling the coverage of even the ninth tier of English football to vastly improve. It is now possible to follow games in such leagues as they happen on Twitter with score updates as fast if not faster than the BBC offer for the Premier league.
With such data being shared for lower league teams on sites such as Twitter freely, how much longer will Opta and Perform be able to continue to charge people to feature this data. It is another unintended consequence of having fans at the games: they are able and keen to share the score from the ground.
This seems to be something that Twitter are beginning to latch onto. If you look at what they did during the World Cup they created special tweet lists all the games which would include every tweet sent about that game. It created a unique live match commentary which coincidentally was also faster than the BBC and other established media.
Of course covering the games to the level of depth is no mean feat and they will undoubtedly always be a role for a room full of analysts who will pour over every aspect of the game and record every touch, pass, shot, cross etc and then draw conclusions.
All of this raises questions as to just how long live score data can be ‘licensed’. Indeed the mass media organsations have had to embrace Twitter, often looking to it to find breaking stories and then using their own accounts to share them. Of course sport is a more organised and everyone knows when the event will be happening. But it would appear that bureaucracy gets in the way of raw speed from companies such as the BBC and Sky. After all, surely every fan wants to be kept right up to date, not 2 minutes behind the action.
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