Sports and technology are often at odds, the former prizing tradition and the latter innovation, yet sometimes it is sports fans that show us the future. Scott Frederick is a lifelong sports fan and the founder of statsheet.com, a growing website that provides deep analysis and statistics for nearly every team in major sports and is capable of completely personalizing your sports experience. That personalization is at the center of their new content agreement with Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, which will create individual computerized “articles” detailing each fan’s fantasy results, and may eventually change how we experience sports completely.
We called Scott to discuss his new Yahoo! deal, statsheet.com’s growth, and how he thinks sports will evolve in the era of digital personalization. Check out the highlights below:
Question: “Who came up with the idea to use statistics and computerized articles to personalize the fans’ fantasy experience and how was it implemented?”
Scott: “The genesis came from the many fantasy players in our company. We all play fantasy and we always wanted more statistics, more data; we wanted to understand on a deeper level how we could improve each week. So we thought, ‘wouldn’t most people want to use the power of big data in fantasy?’
We realized people would love access to that data but no one wants to sift through it in statistical form, we had to make reading it an enjoyable experience. So, why not make computerized fantasy recaps of each individual matchup, written with color but containing very deep, specific statistics about each positional battle and embedded suggestions for how to improve? We went forward and it’s proved to be a great application of our company’s technology to facilitate a completely personal analysis of someone’s fantasy matchup.”
Question: “So, working with Yahoo!, that has to be an incredible number of individual recaps. How much content did you generate and how was that possible?”
Scott: “We realized that, in just our first night of weekly recaps, we generated more articles than the major sports sites and networks combined, including ESPN, generate in one year! We were also able to use our knowledge of context, favorites, and betting lines to add color to every article, so it feels like you are reading something by a real journalist, not a computer.
The amount of data we had to process was truly astronomical. But our computers generated the recaps at a rate of over 1,000 per second and we completed the process in less than three hours.”
Question: “So do you plan to put every sports journalist out of a job?”
Scott: [Laughing] No. We think our value is in providing the data people need to actually analyze sports and know what they are talking about. We can provide this in personalized form to fans or aggregated to journalists. We think journalists will use it to make their lives easier on the research side and we can help let them focus on creating the best nuanced, human analysis that computers cannot create.
We also think there is an opportunity for fans to get deeper analysis of teams that big sports journalists rarely cover – like the Division II school your son might play for – and let fans get the information they want, no matter who their team of choice happens to be.”
Question: “Wow. So, if you had 30 seconds to leave a final impression with readers, what makes statsheet.com special? Why will we see more of you in the future?”
Scott: “We humanize big data. And that’s the future of sports.”
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