4 min readUpdated Oct 27, 2022

The real(time) future of sports data

The real(time) future of sports data
Eve MartinEve Martin

A combination of connected fans, the sports-betting markets (notably the US, predicted to be a $215bn betting industry by 2025), and ‘continuous’, in-play bet-waging have given rise to an explosion of live sports data. In sport, the next wave of data-driven transformations is being driven by realtime communication.

Supporting a competitively innovative industry

In sports betting, competition to attract and retain users is fierce. Consumers need up-to-date data to be delivered in under half a second and seamlessly synchronized across multiple devices. They'll switch to another app at the first sign of inconvenience or frustration, so delivery has to be reliable.

For organizations, although consumer expectations are high, the benefits are also significant. Live data streams from sports events by definition attract large audiences. Easy exposure to these APIs means more revenue streams, as partner businesses add to live fan experiences. Live sport remains one of the most popular — and lucrative — entertainment channels despite TV viewing figures that are in decline.

A race is afoot to capture the new, mobile-based audience by delivering  the best, most novel and most immersive fan experiences possible. What do these look like in practice?

In-platform betting experiences allow bet-wagers to access data streams on demand and set their own terms for bets. Fantasy Football Fix is a platform for social betting experiences. The infrastructure behind  this platform is impressive: individual in-game actions are collected,  packaged and distributed while being run through dynamic, AI-driven  predictive algorithms. They are then distributed back — in real  time — to thousands of players. As well as performance, low latency and scalability, it’s also important these data streams form the basis of other innovations.

Realtime tech and live official scores

The Australian Open is one of the four major tennis tournaments in the global sports calendar and airs live in 220 territories to more than 900 million homes. The Australian Open is owned and managed by Tennis Australia, which has used Ably since 2018 to meet the challenge of providing real-time scores, updates and commentary to the event’s global fan base (over 1 million users to receive updates within 500ms, for the 95th percentile of all users). Losing users through poor data delivery is not an option for them. Their advertising revenue depends on continuous data delivery for its sponsors and partners.

Ably has worked with Tennis Australia for four years because it can guarantee uninterrupted performance as demand for the services surges and spikes. In addition, whilst most people’s devices support WebSockets, given the sheer quantity of visitors and fans across the globe, Tennis Australia needs to ensure that the lowest common denominator device can receive updates without the need for WebSocket support. Ably’s client library SDKs provides cross-platform support for all visitor devices and browsers. The client library SDKs gracefully fall-back to lowest common denominator transports like HTTP streaming, XHR and JSONP where necessary to ensure that all visitors receive a realtime experience.

According to Tennis Australia,

“The Australian Open’s worldwide audience engage with the event via every digital medium and format imaginable, with millions of users receiving billions of realtime messages each second. Reliable realtime infrastructure ensures Tennis Australia remains the primary source for live scores, streaming videos, profile information, schedules and commentary.”

Ably's Four Pillars of Dependability

We created the Four Pillars of Dependability because we understand that transferring data in realtime is vital for a seamless user experience.

Performance: We focus on predictability of latencies to provide certainty in uncertain operating conditions, offering <65ms roundtrip latency in 99% percentile and unlimited channel throughput.

Integrity: We offer guarantees for ordering and delivery to overcome limitations of pub/sub & simplify app architecture. Message ordering and delivery are guaranteed from publisher to subscribers.

Reliability: Fault tolerant at regional and global level so we can survive multiple failures without outages (99.999999% message survivability for instance and datacenter failure).

Availability: A transparent, mathematically grounded design for extreme scale, elasticity, and service uptime with 50% capacity margin for instant surge and 99.999% uptime SLA.

To talk to Ably about the tech, use cases and scope for realtime messaging — in sports and elsewhere — get in touch.

Ably is the platform that powers synchronized digital experiences in realtime for millions of simultaneously connected devices around the world. Our APIs and global edge network empower developers to build, extend, and deliver digital experiences in realtime.

This article was first published on 9th May 2019 and was updated in January 2022 to add new links and information about our Four Pillars of Dependability.

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