Genius Sports slashes cost and lowers latencies for last-mile live sports data delivery

Genius Sports is one of the world’s largest sports technology companies. Sportsbook brands use its live sports data, end-to-end trading and risk services to optimize odds and create a compelling player experience.

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Size:

Enterprise

Industry:

Sports and media technology

Use Case:

Live sports data

The problem
Delivering reliable, live sports and betting data with low latency at scale

Genius Sports provides its customers with live sports and betting data across 240,000 events worldwide – each generating 10,000+ realtime messages. Its value proposition is built on reliable, live data and on-premises infrastructure, but rapid growth has brought challenges.

In-play betting puts a premium on reliable, predictable realtime performance at low latency – if data arrives late, players can bet on events that have already happened, costing Genius Sports’ customers money and damaging its reputation.

However, to maintain live data performance at low latency and global scale, Genius Sports had been forced to locate ever larger, on-premises RabbitMQ clusters physically close to customers. As a result, hardware capital and support costs were increasing exponentially, while infrastructure teams were constantly firefighting hardware issues. 

Despite a belt and braces approach to hardware redundancy and failover, the situation represented an unsustainable commercial risk - with costs rising and latencies creeping up, Genius Sports needed a new realtime solution.

240,000

Sports events covered each year

30 hours

Developer time saved per month

Thanks to Ably, now we don’t have to deal with the hardware, the rising costs and the stress. The core infrastructure for delivering live sports data to our customers is Ably. We sleep easier at night knowing it can be relied on for consistent low latency and message integrity at scale. 

Gary WilliamsIT Infrastructure Team Lead
The solution
Realtime at the heart of a cloud-first infrastructure strategy

Genius Sports chose Ably to provide realtime messaging infrastructure as a service in an early implementation of an ongoing shift to a cloud-first strategy – safe in the knowledge that the migration from RabbitMQ would require no significant refactoring of its wider architecture, coding or developer work.

As well as giving the business an elastically scalable realtime infrastructure for the edge - using Ably enabled Genius Sports to essentially hand off the heavy-lifting associated with live data processing and delivery. Ably also gave developers the insight and flexibility they needed to innovate the core service and to offer customers more granular control of the data they subscribe to. 

Feedback from developers during a trial implementation was enthusiastic.  The staged implementation – delivered one sporting sector at a time to avoid peaks – was straightforward, according to IT Infrastructure Team Lead, Gary Williams: “Ably was super-helpful and has some excellent documentation. I got the APIs working and I’m not a developer, so if I can, anyone can. Overall, even with a super-cautious approach we had Ably live on our production system in less than two months. For a system handling business critical data, that is quite an achievement.”

240,000

Sports events covered each year

30 hours

Developer time saved per month

The result
Infrastructure teams can “sleep easy” and developers are free to innovate

Genius Sports now relies on Ably to handle live sports and betting data delivery across 80 apps – each dedicated to a different sport. Concerns about latency are gone - with 300+ points of presence across a global edge network, Ably effortlessly maintains sub-65ms latency at global scale. That ensures live data delivery to Genius Sports’ customers is always 3-4 seconds ahead of video, which protects the integrity of in-play betting and customer revenues.

Meanwhile, Gary and his team can “sleep easier at night”, knowing that business critical data is no longer at the mercy of complex and increasingly unstable on-premises infrastructure; the daily rush to address hardware issues is a thing of the past. In turn, that has eliminated annual hardware costs and freed up around 30 hours per month in RabbitMQ maintenance that Genius Sports’ developers and engineers can now refocus on service optimisation and innovation. 

Looking ahead, innovation plans already include:

  • Making use of Ably message deltas to reduce realtime message size, which can currently reach 1Mb, without losing the ability to review a sporting events’ entire message stream when required.

  • Migration to Kafka for data processing, which is simplified by Ably’s ability to seamlessly extend Kafka to the edge.

  • Moving towards an API-first model allowing customers to select the live data they want to ingest and manipulate it to offer differentiated experiences for their customers – which Ably makes possible without the need for significant developer work.

240,000

Sports events covered each year

30 hours

Developer time saved per month