Dead zones in livestats – Genius Sports lets the CFL down

Genius sports

The NFL extended its official stats partnership with Genius Sports on Thursday – but you have to wonder if it knew about the mess the British data provider has made north of the border.

There has been a storm of criticism against Genius Sports among fans and the media throughout Canada ever since the Canadian Football League’s regular season began last month. So, exactly how NFL executives missed what one journalist described as a “red flag” about Genius Sports is a mystery.

NFL

Genius Sports has promised much and delivered, well, at times, nothing. When announcing the launch of its CFL partnership in May, Genius Sports described its LiveStats product, as “a new cutting-edge data collection system, [which] will capture official play-by-play updates on every CFL game.”

Except it has not. The company has fallen at the first hurdle. Far from offering coverage of “every game,” there were dead zones in LiveStats. Jonathan Clink of CFLnewshub.com reported, “The stats this year were troublesome for the preseason as the CFL is transitioning through LiveSpats [sic] with Genius Sports.

“Defensive statistics were not made available for the game between Calgary and Edmonton. Punting stats in week 3 were also not available.”

Fans are not amused either. At the RiderFans forum, an online community for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, users expressed their annoyance. “I jumped onto my Score App just to see the passing totals,” wrote ingo_Arms, “it actually says right on there: ‘player stats will be updated after the game.’ Ridiculous, the Score is the most used sports app in Canada.”

User Bioben added that the absence of stats does not reflect well on the CFL: “So now we have a game tracker that was not ready for the beginning of the season? If so it makes the league look quite bad.”

Posting only this week, another user, Green81, went further: “I read the article and it talks about all these advanced statistics and game tracking abilities launching at the beginning of the season. Now here we sit about 6 weeks later and I’m not seeing any evidence of any of it.

“Anybody have any idea what’s going on here? Is the league really that inept that they brag up a new platform then don’t even launch it? Is Genius not living up to their end of the bargain? Something just doesn’t add up here.”

Worse than the complaints, it seems fans are turning away from the CFL’s commercial products. Another thread on RiderFans.com is entitled simply, “New CFL fantasy is crap.”

But it’s not just fans who are upset at the situation. Danny Austin of the Calgary Sun did not like how it meant he could not do his job properly, writing, “Dedrick Mills will step in after sitting out Week 1 against the Lions.

“Mills had a couple huge games last year, although the fact that the CFL inexplicably and inexcusably has wiped all its stats from its website while Genius Sports builds something new — apparently — means it’s hard for us to tell you much about them.”

The pressure has been taking its toll on CFL representatives. At a press conference last month, the CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie explained that the league is “transitioning from short-term focus to a long-term mindset. While it’s been disruptive, I think in the long term we’ll look back on this and say it was well worth the effort.”

Well, maybe. Worse still, Ambrosie was forced to deny reports he had told team representatives that Genius Sports had been pushing to adopt the four-down model to match NFL football, which led to an understandable outcry among traditionalists.

None of this has satisfied Santino Filoso, a columnist at the online football magazine 3DownNation, who delivered his damning verdict in the same week Ambrosie was speaking in defence Genius Sports.

“It remains beyond embarrassing that, two weeks into the regular season, the CFL cannot provide stats to fans, media, its broadcast partners or bettors — an audience they’ve been quite open about chasing,” wrote Filoso.

“The fact that the league is pushing fans to play fantasy football and bet on their product, while also making it nearly impossible to find basic information on players and teams, is pathetic. Can you imagine if the NHL/NFL/NBA/MLB/MLS didn’t offer anyone stats for the first four weeks of play?

“They’d be skewered, and rightly so. The CFL had all off-season plus a month of training camp to sort this out. The fact that they didn’t is a huge red flag for their partnership with Genius Sports.”

Well, we might be about to find out what would happen because Genius Sports provides the NFL and its fans with the official stats feed, and according to the news this week, they will continue to do so for years to come. Does the big-dog league down south suck in so many resources that the stats firm cannot provide the CFL and its fans what they need? Or do they just not care about the CFL?

Either way, you have to agree with Filoso – it is a huge red flag.

Other articles from mtltimes.ca – totimes.ca – otttimes.ca

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