With nearly 115 million people tuning in to watch the Superbowl and some 3.2 billion sitting down to watch the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, it’s no wonder that sporting events have become major moments in the TV calendar. But did you know the role that Big Data plays in every single live event you watch?
It may seem like a dry topic but the data behind every sport has a massive impact on how it is broadcast and how viewers access it.
Jon Saunders, Head of Technology for Digital Content at Sky, highlighted the true scale of the information the broadcaster gets.
“Sports data is massive. We get a Gigabytes of data each day. For just football, we have 25 leagues that we get daily data directly from and have records dating back to 1992. There’s a vast amount of data just for football, and at Sky we broadcast many more sports across our eight Sky Sports channels.”
With this huge amount of data coming in to Sky every day, it’s important that there is the right tech in place to make sure this information gets to where it’s needed. More importantly, users need to be able to get their hands on the data as soon as possible.
“We’ve spent the years building systems with thousands of data feeds inputting into them – some of which have to be manually entered. It takes about 30 seconds for us to receive the data, process it and then send it out to users.”
People are incredibly passionate about the sports they love, and that means that any information delivered to users needs to be accurate and relevant.
“One of the biggest places for data is the Sky Sports Football Score Centre, which gets hundreds of thousands of visitors every Saturday and around two million users every month. The information has got to be accurate, because we know fans come to us as the leading destination for news.
“Football fans are incredibly passionate about their sport and want to know everything about it. We’ve had times before where a goal has been attributed to the wrong person, because of an own goal, and the data needs to be manually adjusted in a matter of seconds.”
As Jon explains, data can be chaotic, and finding a system that is able to sort this into a format that users all over the world can easily understand in seconds can be pose a challenge, particularly for mobile.
“With an incredible design team we are able to use this vast amount of data to our advantage and provide a much more personalised user experience for mobile users. For example for some sports if you turn your mobile device horizontally we can provide you with more stats than if you were using your phone vertically, where the data would be much more concise. It’s all about finding out what is important to users, what works best for that particular sport and continually improving the user experience.”
Jon Saunders is Head of Technology for Digital Content at Sky