The governing bodies of men’s and women’s pro tennis players have decided to pimp live scores and data generated by their matches. The move was prompted by the desire to further monetize the sport and the even greater desire to prevent anybody else from doing so. Kate Gordon, Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour spokesperson, told Bloomberg that “there are a lot of unauthorized people out there collecting our data, either scraping it off our websites or television or sitting in the stands, keying in every shot, often with errors, and selling it for substantial profit.”
Danish firm Enetpulse ApS, which supplies live sports content to media organizations and betting outfits, has been selected as sole global distributor of the pro tennis official live data stream. Initially, at least, Enetpulse’s tennis data will only be offered to gambling companies. Right now, live tennis scores are available via the ATP’s website, TV broadcasts and from onsite displays, but these systems can lag behind the action by six seconds or longer. Enetpulse’s business development manager Phil Parry aims to shrink that gap down to less than two seconds. Enetpulse will test their system this November, and expect to have the bugs worked out by the time they go live in January.
Whether the ATP’s move will discourage the renegade ‘courtsiders’ from continuing to relay the tennis data from the stands via mobile device largely depends on a single factor: price. Warwick Bartlett, CEO of Global Betting and Gaming Consultancy, says the ATP dare not sell its data at too dear a price. “If it is too expensive then illegals will be encouraged to compete.” (Illegals? When did we start talking about immigrants? Is that a tennis net or a border fence?) So far, reaction to the ATP’s decision has been a firm ‘meh’. Asked about Enetpulse’s offering, a Ladbrokes’ spokesman said it “doesn’t strike me as something we’d be interested in at this stage.” Methinks it’s time for the ATP to send those brawny Williams sisters over to Ladbrokes’ offices to check their crawl space for ‘illegals.’