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Sports Stats API feeds evaluated: ChalkGaming wins

Posted by bryan on December 7, 2011 in E-Business, Web Services, XML with 5 Comments


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Well, I’ve decided to give this one away in the title, since the good folks over at ChalkGaming helped me out quite a bit while consulting with a big client who wanted to integrate Sports Stats into their Online Newspaper properties.

Requirement

Create a sports widget to display quality sports data (including: schedules, box scores, standings, betting odds, league news, trade and injury reports) for the top 6 big leagues (NHL, NBA, NFL, CFL, MLB, MLS) and ensure it is scalable to display as many other sports as possible. When thinking of how to solve this problem, I quickly checked out each of the major leagues’ sites for their terms of use to see if a quick scraping solution was practical (or even legal).

One possible solution would be to scrape the required data directly from each of the Big Leagues’ own website:

 

Problem

The problem with this of course, is that each site has a very different format (many custom parsers required to get and present the data) and vastly differing licensing terms (some allow data reuse and even encourage caching rather than straining their site, such as MLB). However, most don’t allow reproduction of their site in any form; meaning most would probably not allow scraping or caching sports stats and other data from their server onto your own server, so you could at best display the content in an iframe and be extremely limited in terms of display options for the end-user.

Solution


The solution, of course, would be to hire a team of sports writers, reporters, editors and dedicated web content aggregators to manually record scores/stats and follow each league’s news (actually I’d encourage this if you’re starting a legitimate sports news business, as it might set you apart from competitors by having skills in-house, not to mention hiring people for employment is good for the economy!)

For those who don’t have the capital required to build these skills in-house though, there are some other options. On the short-term a viable solution to build up your sports reporting capabilities could be to purchase a portion of the sports data collection and reporting from a 3rd party. This is what the rest of this post will examine, weighing off the premium Sports Data providers and also briefly looking at some free options.

Premium 3rd-party Sports Data Providers:

Chalk Gaming
API | Demo
XML Teams
API | Demo
SportsDirect
API | Demo
Stats, inc
API | Demo
Price (monthly)
$725 $550 $1000 $1200

Leagues

12+ 80+ 43+ 300+
Big 6?
y y y y
Int’l Coverage
% y y y
Hosted Portal
y y y y
Schedules
y y y y
Live Updates
y y y
Box Scores
y y y y
Match Stats
y y y
Historical
Stats
y y
Team Rosters
y y y y
Line ups
y y y y
Player Profiles
y y y y
News
y y y
Odds
y y y
Injury Reports
y y y y
Trades
y y

Free(mium) 3rd-party Sports Data Providers

  • USA Today – Sports Salaries data only, but the best free, high quality source for this unique information.
  • Yahoo! Fantasy Sports – Too complex to work with, requires OAuth and manual creation/curation of a Fantasy league before any data is available. Allows non-commercial use only.
  • Odds Shark – Only provides Odds and Betting Lines, but has a free Odds feed available.
  • FanFeedr – Great source for news headlines and probably the best for fan commentary.
  • SeatGeek – Best for tracking Sporting Events and Ticketing, but lacks detailed sports stats, odds or historical data.
  • SportsPower – US High School sports only, but one of the best sources for this under-reported and covered section of the market.
  • Sherdog – The best source for Mixed Martial Arts stats, news and historical data.
  • Ergast – Best free source for Motorsports (F1, Indy, Nascar) events and historical data. Non-commercial use only, unless special permission obtained.
  • Are You Watching This? – Decent daily/current data but not much in archives. Does not allow access unless you commit to a long-term contract (which is, while much affordable than the competition, not anywhere near free, and varies based on traffic to your site).
  • SportsDatabase – Unstructured HTML only, requires knowlegde of their internal
  • SDQL unclear if scraping is allowed or how that data could be used.
  • Wikipedia – Unstructured and unorganized data only, in “wikitext” format.
  • OddsMiner – Quality not as high. Focus on European market might be useful for those who want to target UEFA and other European-specific leagues.
  • Customizable widgets by CBS Sports– Requires unremovable linkbacks to CBS Sports. Flash support required. On the positive side, its fairly compact and complete for basic schedule and score listings, Demo here:
  • Use Free “Live Score” RSS feeds from ESPN’s new API (non-commercial use only): MLB | NFL | NBA | NHL | NCAA | WNBA | UEFA

Conclusion
“Chalk” is what bookies and sports bettors call the “favorite to win”. This is a clever pun by the ChalkGaming marketing team, and at least in my opinion, Chalk is indeed the favorite to win. Chalk has the best balance of features .vs. cost, however any of the top 4 are a good choice, it really depends on how much you’re willing to spend. For lowest cost but still in the top tier, XML Team is the close runner-up. For free options, I’d go with something like the FanFeedr API for news updates and audience banter to supplement the statistical feeds available from ChalkGaming. In the end, what really sets ChalkGaming apart is that they do have the previously mentioned in-house skills and team to collect up-to-the-minute statistics and organize everything in a logical way.

OVERALL WINNER
Chalk Gaming (formerly SportsDatabases, inc.)

Date Established: February, 2001
Parent Company: Barscope Interactive Data Systems
Phone: +1 (902) 446-4438
Fax: +1 (902) 835-4897
Website: http://www.chalkgaming.com
Email: sales@getchalk.com

Headquarters:
84 Chain Lake Drive, Suite 503
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canada, B3S 1A2

 

 

  1. RealistDecember 7, 2012 - 8:28 pm #1

    Chalk gaming doesn’t return emails or phone calls for sales opportunities.
    Definitely not a good company to invest in.

    Reply
  2. Gabrielle WisslerMay 28, 2013 - 2:50 am #2

    Just finished reading the news and I must admit it was useful. In other words, please do not finish as people do need such info and you will have appreciation for your efforts. Please have a nice day .

    Reply
  3. Norris UruetaJuly 5, 2013 - 8:56 pm #3

    It is very not often that I find such well-written posts. I must admit there’s too much garbage all over the internet. Do not listen to anybody negative or who tries to tell you otherwise. Follow your heart/mind and keep posting. Like I do – you seem to share all your knowledge which is what the world needs. You know IT and can help people learn alot, I know gardening and can let people know how they can order sustainably grown flowers and seeds for delivery within Ukraine (not trying to just promote myself, whttp://bcmoney-mobiletv.com/blog/wp-admin/edit-comments.php?approved=1#comments-formhat I mean is that we have to share what we know).

    Reply
  4. BeszROFLAugust 31, 2018 - 1:18 pm #4

    It is really a nice and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
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