SBC Interviews Bill Squadron of Bloomberg Sports

BillsqaudThis Week the SBC team catches up with Bloomberg Sports President Bill Squadron, to discuss sports data analysis and Bloomberg Sports (BSports) product range as it aims to tackle the European sports betting market.

Launched as Bloomberg Sports in 2010, BSports takes the technology developed by Bloomberg, the leading global provider in financial data and analytics, and applies it to the vast data analysis opportunities in sports. BSports recently launched a consumer product for football which provides match forecasts & analytics for matches in Europe’s top five leagues, with the aim of helping bettors beat bookies.

 

SBC: Bill great meeting you! Can you give our readers more insight into BSports’ football product and what it aims to bring to the European sports and iGaming markets?

Bill: Here at Bloomberg Sports we use our expertise in data analytics & forecasting and apply it to sport. Having produced both professional and consumer tools for use in US sports, we began to realize that we could apply our projection capabilities to a far bigger ocean; the global football market and world gaming market

 

As a result we developed our ‘Match Analysis’ tool, which provides scientifically-driven match forecasts and in-running analytics for all matches in the top five European leagues (Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, Bundesliga), the Champions League, and US Major League Soccer.

In addition to these data-based advanced forecasts, the tool updates the probable outcomes of each match every minute, providing bettors with pure, math-driven odds that they can then compare to what the bookmakers are offering. Last season, the Match Analysis odds helped to highlight value – a discrepancy between our pure numbers and the bookmaker odds — in over 900 games (over 47% of all games), providing excellent returns on investment to consumers using the tool.”

SBC: BSports Europe aims to provide in-depth data analyses to the consumer/sports fan for free. Why have you chosen to take this consumer route, while others have concentrated on B2B strategies for sports data provisions?

Bill: That is Correct, BSports continues to look at new ways to use analytics that will be interesting and useful for the consumer. With analytics becoming more and more prevalent in both the minds of the fans and the advanced bettor, we felt that this ‘freemium’ tool would be of great interest and value to football fans and bettors alike.

Building on the accuracy of the free, baseline Match Analysis tool, we are developing a premium product for release in the near future. This subscription-based product will take match odds one step further by automatically indicating value against the bookmaker odds in order to help bettors ‘beat the bookie’, including in real-time during matches.

In the meantime, for our free service we are working with corporate partners who see value in using football data as the vehicle in reaching a global football audience; both for those already in football and those who are looking for new entry. In using our data analytics, along with a strong presence on our StatsInsights.com destination and our weekly Value Guide and League Projections, there is a real opportunity for companies to have presence in football in a compelling and meaningful way.”

SBC: BSports has had great success in the United States, especially in the popular Fantasy Sports market. How do you feel the European sports fans differ in consumption of sports and sports data analyses? Can you transfer any knowledge and competencies from your US focused operations to European markets?

Bill: Our efforts in the U.S. fantasy market confirmed two things: 1) that there is an increasing appetite among sports fans for top, data-driven analytics, and 2) that Bloomberg Sports algorithms, built on the core Bloomberg financial technology platform, could produce the most accurate forecasts yet developed.

What we see in European sports is that fans are also showing an increased interest in strong data analytics, and that our predictive capabilities apply with even greater value to those markets where betting is legal.  That’s why we will expand to other sports as well.”

SBC. How do you see your product helping sports betting operators. Would providing their customers with better insight on sporting markets not be a hindrance to sports betting operators? 

Bill: We don’t believe so, Because the tool is designed to highlight value in the market, we also feel it is an active stimulant for betting.  By encouraging bettors to feel more confident and engaged, it will grow the overall business which is very good for everyone, especially the operators.  Indeed, many of the leading betting operators provide tools that help their customers make more informed decisions when betting for that exact reason, to stimulate activity.”

SBC: European sports unlike in the United States are governed by multiple regional bodies, and broadcast by multiple local media providers, how have you tackled this issue with regards to accurate data collection for sports markets.

Bill: We have a strong partnership with OPTA, who are widely recognized to be first-rate data collection specialists. Whilst we accept that football may not have the same level of measurable data points as some American sports, the data we receive from OPTA, supplemented by other sources, is more than sufficient to allow Bloomberg engineers and mathematicians to build highly predictive models using the Bloomberg methodology.  The results in our 2012-13 beta season clearly demonstrated this.”

SBC: What competencies from Bloomberg news and financial information services have you managed to transfer to your sports data solution and what new competencies and learning has your organisation had to learn in order to tackle sports data.

Bill: The beauty of our products are that they were largely inspired by Bloomberg’s distinctively strong prediction models. We have access to a core technology built for a  much more complex set of circumstances, the world financial markets, in which to build our models.

Taking the technology developed by the leading global provider in financial data and analytics, and applying it to sports allows us to be confident in our methodology and credible in our outreach to consumers.”

SBC: What trends in sports consumption do you feel we will witness in the near future, and what technologies will have the biggest impact on sports fans and their consumption habits?

Bill: I would say we will see the following:-

–       Compelling second screen content accompanying the TV broadcast

–       Mobile platforms – phone and tablet – dominating consumption

–       Identification of the ‘Moneyball’ moment for football

–       Greater use of predictive models by fans and bettors

–       Live and in-game data available to the masses, with new data (biometric & tracking) being introduced

–       Substitute analysers and momentum trackers among other insightful tools

 

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Match Analysis is currently free to use for football fans and bettors at www.BSports.com/MA

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