Bloomberg Sports Forges Ahead In Analytics and Fantasy
A little less than three years ago, Bloomberg, the financial technology giant for over a quarter century, decided to get into the world of sports data analytics. The theory, spawned by two Bloomberg analysts who were fanatic but unsuccessful fantasy basketball players, was that if the power of the engine that drove billions of dollars in financial transactions every year, then all the data of sports could be harnessed as well.
The start-up vertical was the company's first consumer business, and as a launch had its share of fits and starts. Bill Squadron, who had had success in the tech space starting up Sportvision, was brought in to head the new business and bring both business credibility and start-up sports savvy to the division, and off it went. A high tech, very elaborate and somewhat cumbersome fantasy baseball product, in partnership with MLB.com, came out of the gate, and although the initial launch looked great, it was too difficult for most fantasy players to engage with. At the same time the company began to forge partnerships on the professional side with many Major League Baseball clubs, trying to gradually introduce each and every team to a quicker, customized and more efficient way to evaluate player talent.
Since that launch Bloomberg Sports has overhauled and refined its fantasy products in response to customer feedback, adding tablet and mobile applications as the market changed. They launched a fantasy football product in year one with the NFL as a partner, but switched to a more independent offering in year two to attract other partners. Their "Front Office" baseball product became one of the first and only fantasy baseball tools compatible to any league a player chooses. It was all about constant refinement.
The professional tools also evolved to the point where today almost all clubs are using some version, and two teams this year, Theo Epstein's Chicago Cubs and Jerry Dipoto's Los Angeles Angels, scrapped their systems entirely to take on Bloomberg Sports as a partner. Their tablet offering for players improved, and they added teams in the Caribbean and very soon, Japan, to their roster. They also have a planned expansion into a global marketplace with a launch of a soccer product at some point in the next month.
Still the bread and butter for the consumer side is fantasy, and this week Bloomberg Sports unveiled what is their latest product for the NFL season.Decision Maker 2012 is an interactive fantasy football application that uses Bloomberg’s state-of-the art advanced analytic tools to advise fantasy football players on their best starting lineup each week. Bloomberg Sports will also introduce Crowd Call, a free fan-voting companion tool which will allow fans to test their own predictive capabilities against the Bloomberg Sports technology-driven selections. The 2012 products will be available on the web and the Apple iOS mobile platform.