BBC Sport - Data Stories


May 5th, 2013 by Cat Jones

So it’s been a while now since we last blogged about our work with the guys at BBC Sport and following Matthew Clarks’ latest blog we thought it was time to update you all.

The last time we spoke we had just got back from the build studio and were awaiting news as to whether our idea, out of the ten at the build studio, would make it through to Pilot. Well by the very nature of me sharing this blog post with you all, I think it’s fairly obvious that we were one of the lucky four!

We’ve been working on the pilot for a while now and the end is nigh. Transforming the idea has been an enjoyable experience for the whole team, although we have inevitably been met with a few challenges along the way we’re extremely proud of what we have achieved. The main challenge has been the wealth of data relating to sport that is available and the many ways this can be displayed to the user. What stats or stories are most important and relevant to the game and the user at that point in time. How do we visualise the data available and can we create an additional dimension to the story of a live event. The answer, yes, if you spend 4 months working really hard you’ll figure it out!

For the pilot we are again focussing on football, although there are endless possibilities for the companion to translate into other sports. The web app will give users a moment by moment view of a football game with stats that change dynamically and additional information and facts surrounding what we perceive as the key events in a football game - shots, subs etc.

There’s lots of scenarios where we feel the companion is something that really has merit, if you are watching the game with someone that likes to ask lots of questions about what is going on then hand them the companion, if you’re listening to a match and are struggling to follow the commentary reach for the companion, if you’re watching your team and want to know how your rivals team’s game is going, sit down with the companion - I could go on...

We have created a second screen experience that rivals what is currently available but goes one step further. Apps like four four two and sky sports offerings, give the user lots of data but lets them work out how this affects the event, they make you work hard, when what you really want is to be informed and entertained by the data.

By showing all the key events with complimentary real time statistics and facts we can create a story around the game.

For example, you know that the possession in the game until now is 40% Spurs 60% West Ham, this is useful. But knowing how much of the possession is attacking will give you a clearer view of the game. When we look at whether it is attacking or defensive possession the story then becomes although West Ham had 60% of the possession up until now 45% of this was defending possession. So although West Ham had the majority possession it was Spurs who were playing the better game. By giving users more information they get a truer view of what has taken place during the match.

Our final round of audience testing takes place shortly and we will be sure to share our progression here and on twitter so keep an eye out.

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