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Papers streaming live stats

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Matt Stephens, May 14, 2012.

  1. Matt Stephens

    Matt Stephens Well-Known Member

    I know we've talked about score keeping apps before, but I was wondering if anyone (or know of any papers which have) has been successful streaming live stats to their paper's site via iScore (or whatever program)?

    I've accepted an ASE role at a daily that's trying to recreate itself in print and online and part of my job will be coordinating preps coverage. My goal for the first year is to have a quality sports site/blog online that focuses on the high schools and local university and I had a thought that we could be "unique" (eh, maybe not the best word to use) for our size by streaming stats live on game nights.

    We probably wouldn't be able to do it with every game (though that would be ideal), so having a game of the week each Friday night during football season is what I'd look for as a test run. Use iScore to track the stats (since we have to keep them, anyway), but turn on the scorecaster option, embed (or link to if embed isn't allowed) on the site, and bam. Sure to generate traffic from around the state.

    Has anyone out there put this type of thing into practice for their media outlet's site and been successful doing so? I realize colleges and pro teams provide live stats, but outside of an occasional team manager or parent on the sideline, you don't see it too often with high schools (however, GameChanger is becoming a great tool).

    If you have any examples of papers or online magazines doing this, I'd love to check them out and hear some feedback.
  2. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Hmmm... someone would still have to input the data. Who's going to do that?

    From my experience, it's hard enough to get most reporters to tally up stats for the paper after the game is over. And when I'm covering games in the field, I'm among the best with numbers (started out as a spotter for TV, so developed my own system). But I don't know if I would touch that. I do all my stats on paper and wouldn't dream of trying to do them on some portable computer, iPad, phone or whatever.

    I would imagine you would need a second person to do just that. And the trend seems to be smaller staffs, reporters trying to shoot and write, etc. I'm just trying to imagine how you would get that done.
  3. Matt Stephens

    Matt Stephens Well-Known Member

    For the place I'm leaving, we had six full-time reporters, plus an SE and ASE. We'd all cover a different game each Friday (and be the only person there, aside from the photog) and would keep a full offensive box of the game (every player that touched the ball got their name in print, plus first downs, scoring plays, fumbles, INTs, all your standard AP agate stuff). I'm pretty sure we all did it by hand.

    The coach of the team I covered would put all of his stats on on MaxPreps the next day and told me he'd always try to balance them with mine. The main discrepancies would usually be pass/rush yards on what I felt were clearly lateral passes.

    Running in Saturday's paper would be the normal gamer, but follows were printed in Sunday's edition, along with the box (games generally finished at 10 p.m. and deadline was about 11:15, so adding up boxes took too much time to run with the gamer). I never took the time to fiddle with an app last fall, but if it happened to have all the categories needed to run with the print edition, I would think it automatically doing the math part could speed things up. Getting used to it after finding a system by hand, well that might be another story.

    With someone who is writing the story and shooting their own photos, then yeah, I can't even imagine touching this, but with my experience, albeit limited compared to most around here, stat keeping isn't too difficult if you're just writing the gamer.
  4. Brian

    Brian Well-Known Member

    I've streamed live stats from high school tournament baseball games using IScore to our website. I never heard a word from anyone either positively or negatively, so I figure no one was paying attention. But I'm keeping score at the game on IScore anyways, so it wasn't adding any burden to my job.

    The problem with building any sort of following for my area with high school football is that every game is on radio with online streaming. Almost every game is then available on television within two hours of the end of the game on a regional high school sports network.

    IScore does a nice job of sending out scoring updates using tweets, though. Although with my follower count, they are dissipating in the ether.
  5. lcjjdnh

    lcjjdnh Member

    Doesn't the Dallas Morning News do something like this?
  6. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    My question would be whether there's really an audience for this sort of thing. Who's sitting in front of a computer on a Friday night watching live stats from a prep football game? You might get more mileage out of the general idea by thinking in terms of a mobile app. You'll have people who are at games interacting with the product that way.

    But as someone else pointed out, you have to input the data somehow. I have several 20-something, tech-savvy reporters on my staff, but they all still keep their stats on paper.

    These sorts of ideas won't really be viable until there's a single point of entry for the data that most teams are using. If someplace like MaxPreps can come in and standardize the collection of data, it will speed a long a lot of these sorts of efforts.
  7. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    If anyone makes money off of live online stats on a Friday night, please let us know, because I think it wastes resources for little return.
  8. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Ok, that's a pretty big staff and paper you mention.

    I have always done my own stats and won't have it any other way. However, there are nights when I can get so wrapped up in doing the numbers that I get to the end of the game and ask myself "what the heck happened out there? Oh, Joe Smith ran for such and such and Tom Dick completed so many passes." But I lose the flow of the game, the trends, the down and distance, the strategy, just because I'm so wrapped up in doing the numbers. (Granted, I do A LOT, including third-down conversions, time of possession, etc.) So I think the more stats I do, the more it hinders my writing.

    One school I covered years ago did a fabulous job with stats. They had a fancy computer program, did in-game printouts for media and coaches, updated season cumulatives on Mondays, etc. But that was the exception rather than the rule. Most schools do well just to find competent help to run the scoreboard and clock. So I have learned not to expect it.

    As for an app, I suppose I could learn it. But I would want A LOT of practice before using it in a live game situation. Stuff just moves so fast that there's no time to go back and correct any errors, so you better be pretty flawless, otherwise it's more harm than good.
  9. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    I agree there's probably a market for this. Some tech-savvy sports buff will develop and market a good program and make millions along the way.

    I don't know if it fits the newspaper business or not. Like you said, what's the audience for this stuff?
  10. We link to iScore on our blog with instructions on how to follow along. If there is a way to imbed it directly onto a website, that would be awesome!

    The feedback we have received at my paper is pretty good. The first game we tried doing it was a softball game. The first thing a bunch of girls from one team asked was "are you the iPad guy!?" I also was approached by about five people during the game who were following along on their phones. I have not received as much feedback since that initial try and I don't think we've found a way to measure clicks onto that link to iScore, so I can't provide actual reader stats.

    On a side note, I would frown upon any reporter who questioned doing this during a high school game. Live stats aside, the iPad apps make stat keeping MUCH easier.
  11. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    I suppose you can always teach an old dog new tricks. Some of us were covering games long before pagination, much less the internet and iPad, came along.
  12. JJHHI

    JJHHI Member

    I used the iScore app to keep football stats last season and loved it. Never used the live stats function, mostly because none of our stadiums seemed to have wi-fi.
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