Genius Sports is a leading provider of sports data, technology and integrity services. It specialises in enabling leagues and federations to collect, manage and distribute their live data.
We had a chance to sit and talk with Daniele Gonteri, Head of Football at Genius Sports and speaker at World Football Summit Asia.
Welcome back to World Football Summit Daniele. Can you tell us a little bit about Genius Sports and your new role in it?
Thank you. After more than 15 years at UEFA, working across a lot of important projects and with some great people, I joined Genius Sports in January as Head of Football.
Genius Sports is a technology company that works in partnership with football leagues and federations. Our software enables all levels of sport to capture, manage and distribute their official data and statistics.
As Head of Football, I’m responsible for leading our football strategy, which includes product development, innovation, and expanding our global network of partners. Already, it’s been massively rewarding getting involved with a company that is growing so quickly and has such a clear commitment to driving the development of world football.
Big data has gone from being an unknown part of the football business to be a big actor, with clubs having big data experts on the payroll. What’s the importance of big data in sports and how can it be used?
Sports increasingly recognise that they need a dedicated strategy and technology infrastructure to thrive in the era of big data.
With control and the right tools, sports can use their official data to improve everything from how they run their competitions, to the content they provide to their fans, coaches and partners. Data has become a crucial element in growing a sports’ bottom line, enabling them to provide a more valuable product to their sponsors whilst creating new revenue streams.
Genius Sports seems to be growing rapidly in Asia. What trends have you noticed amongst Asian football leagues and federations?
Asia has certainly been a real success story for Genius Sports across multiple sports. In the last year, we’ve formed new data and technology partnerships across Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, India, Myanmar, China and more, while opening a new office in Singapore and driving the continued rollout of the AFC’s competition management system.
Each of our partnerships is unique but we’re noticing a real commitment amongst Asian football leagues and federations to enhance the product they offer their fans. This is driving a major overhaul of their technology infrastructure and services in order to provide live match updates in real-time, increase the number of platforms which their audience can engage with and provide a rich level of insight on individual teams and players.
Football has always been more of a traditional sport, where technology has not been welcomed. We’ve seen that trend change in the past few years, so in which ways can football benefit from technology?
I think it would be very fair to say football and technology haven’t always had the smoothest relationship! But hopefully, the successful introduction of new systems such as goal-line and VAR is paving the way for a better dynamic where technology can support and enhance the game experience.
The most valuable technologies are those that make sports lives’ easier or provide new insights. Digital transformation is a real trend across the sports industry at the moment and we’re seeing leagues at all levels actively disposing of manual or paper-based systems in return for advanced software.
Equally, the growing buzz around big data and AI has driven the development of advanced collection and tracking systems which are changing how we view players, teams and leagues. Nobody had heard of expected goals a few years while systems such as Intel’s True View Technology which enable fans to view the live action through a player, referee or manager’s eyes are now a reality.
What do you think the football landscape will look like in 10 years given the fast-paced progress in technology? What are the new technologies being tested and/or applied right now?
Modern football moves pretty quickly but we fully expect the trend of leagues and federations taking control of their official data to grow in the coming years.
Our philosophy has always been to empower our partners to take charge of their official data at every stage. This means capturing their statistics from pitchside, using their data feed to build official records on their competitions and powering their systems and fan-facing platforms with split-second updates.
This shift, and the evolution of the technology behind it will be hugely important over the next ten years.
How does your new data capture product (Football LiveStats) stand out from others on the market?
The data technology market is increasingly competitive so we’ve placed a real emphasis on creating a product that is unique and valuable to football.
The key differences of our system are threefold: speed, ease of use and control. Because Football LiveStats captures data directly from pitchside instead of from broadcast feeds, it provides our partners with at least a seven second advantage that ensures their websites, mobile apps and other platforms are providing the fastest key match updates.
Our extensive experience in live data collection and football has enabled us to develop a user-friendly system that combines leading UI with carefully selected workflows and a touchscreen to simplify in-game collection.
For the first time, football leagues and federations can be in complete control of their data, and can carefully select where and what purpose it is used for as well as creating official records and archives on teams, players and competitions.
What specific role does Genius Sports play driving digital transformation in football?
A surprising number of football leagues and federations still use manual or paper-based solutions to run key responsibilities such as managing competitions, registering their participants or collecting live data on their games.
Our digital technology replaces these inefficient processes, saving our partners valuable time and money. But perhaps most importantly, we are democratising this technology for all levels of competitive football by providing the necessary tools and expertise to help the sport build on its growing footprint around the world.
Crucial to our success was the decision back in 2013 to build a cloud-based data warehouse. By predicting the move towards open data transfers, our team went about building an ecosystem that enables live data to be easily and securely distributed across lots of different systems and third parties.
For example, our partners can use their live data feed captured at pitchside to power everything from their broadcast, fantasy football website, performance and analytics tools or third party systems for managing competitions or producing highlights packages. Digital transformation will be critical to football’s continued growth and our approach is to empower leagues and federations.
Daniele will be one of the speakers at World Football Summit Asia in Kuala Lumpur on the 29th and 30th of April.