How to select a Football Data Provider?
Selecting the perfect Football API for your sports business, fantasy game, predictive betting website, or hobby project can be a daunting task. Football data has many features, such as livescores, fixtures, standings, odds, and much more, after all.
So, how do you find that one perfect Football API that is perfect for your project? I personally have experienced the hardships of selecting a good Football API back in 2016, and in this blog, I will share my thoughts and some tips about how you can find a great data provider, as well as common API shortcomings.
Now you might wonder. But Jur if the data provider I chose was bad, can’t I simply switch over to a better one?
Yes, you certainly can, but it will cost you many resources and headaches. Your entire project will be built upon the data from your provider. Changing that will require a tremendous amount of work. That’s why it’s best if you immediately find that one data provider that perfectly suits your wishes and needs.
Don’t worry. I’m here to help you. Let’s start with common Football API shortcomings.
Common API issues
Most people think that if they can save up on costs, their profits will be higher. As such, they tend to go for free API data providers. This is a very common pitfall. ‘You get what you pay for.’ is a ubiquitous phrase. Well, in this case, you pay nothing, and as expected, you get utter rubbish. Low-quality data especially is harmful to your business. You might be saving up on costs associated with a subscription, but displaying faulty data to your customers is a death sentence for any aspiring football/sports application.
How can customers trust your business if your data isn’t even trustworthy? So, you would want to pay for your data, bringing us to the second issue.
They are too expensive! Data providers who have earned a reputation for actually being reliable and accurate tend to charge ridiculous prices for their services. Yes, they provide the data you need, but can your start-up business afford to pay the premium prices they charge? Probably not, right?
As you can see, at the time, it was pretty hard to find a football API data provider that wasn’t robbing me in daylight or just simply offering free but terrible data. But, now, five years later, after I started Sportmonks, there are quite a few decent to amazing middle segmented football API data providers out there.
Well, then, how do you make a selection then? Here are five important characteristics of any API provider that you should take into consideration,
Five great characteristics for a data provider
Well, if you’re going to pay for your data, it might as well be of high quality, no? What constitutes high-quality data? High-quality data is data that is accurate, complete, fast, and updated regularly. Did I mention accurate? Accurate data is incredibly important. It doesn’t matter how fast, how up-2-date the data is if it’s not accurate. If it’s not accurate, it’s not worth your time.
Many companies claim to have ‘the most accurate data’ or the ‘highest quality data,’ but you should never blindly trust these statements. Investigate properly before committing!
Things, people, and business all grow. The more your business or project grows, the more leagues you can afford to show. Unless your data provider is bottlenecking you by having a limited number of leagues that they cover.
Determine what leagues you want to show, but consider what leagues you might want to show in the future. For instance, at Sportmonks, you will always be future proof because we currently offer over 1000+ football leagues worldwide, and we still seek to expand the number of leagues that we cover.
Speed of livescores and match events
Tracking live football games is quite popular. Knowing what minute the game is in, when someone scored, received a yellow card, or got substituted are all elements of a livescore endpoint. Being able to track an ongoing game in real-time is quite important. More important is the speed at which this happens. Fast livescores is common jargon because people want to show in-game events as soon as they happen.
The only way they can be shown in real-time is by having fast livescores that are updated frequently. You don’t want a football API that updates every 45 seconds, no you want it updated every 30 or even 15 seconds.
Integrating your data provider’s football API into your own project can be a hassle, especially if their API is static. A static API gives you no options to remove or add parameters, which results in you getting various responses loaded with data that you won’t be using anyway. In other words, it’s useless data that you have to throw out then, which costs time.
While flexible APIs allow you to customize the responses you get from the API fully. With flexible APIs, you only request the data that you need. This saves a lot of time integrating the data into your system.
Unless you’re a prodigy or a veteran, you will most likely need assistance from your data provider with getting started with their football API. How fast do they respond to emails, is their API well-documented, are you able to test their API via a trial, free plan, or the documentation itself?
Proper customer support is vital for your business’ success. It doesn’t matter if the API is brilliant. If it’s terribly difficult to use, you won’t be able to get the maximum value out of it.
There are more things to keep in mind, but you have a basic idea of what to look out for with these five.
Next, I will explain why Sportmonks could be the perfect data provider for your business or hobby project!
Sportmonks’ Football API: How does it work?
Although I could gush about how awesome and great our Sportmonks APIs are, that would be boring and not worth your or my time, instead, let me give you a demonstration of one of our prized endpoints: the livescore endpoint.
I will show you
1) What’s included in the livescore endpoint
2) How you can make API requests to the livescore endpoint
3) How you can take advantage of Sportmonks’ API flexibility
Our livescore endpoint allows you to obtain live data feeds for football matches of the current day. The endpoint covers real-time data and match events such as goals, cards, and substitutions. But that’s not all! Because our APIs are incredibly flexible, you can also request more data shown to you within this livescore endpoint request. This allows you to include data like line-ups, statistics, comments, odds, local and visitor team, and much more.
Note that matches in the livescore API will disappear 15 minutes before and after the match has started/ended.
Remember how I mentioned you want the fastest livescores possible for your business or hobby project? Well, we at Sportmonks can offer you lightning-fast livescores, compared to our competitors.
Please don’t take my word for it, but instead, see for yourself.
Moreover, we cover over 1000+ leagues. So, you can request livescores for an insane number of leagues worldwide!
Making an API request
Ease of use is another one of our selling points. Whether you request fixtures, statistics, livescores, teams, seasons, and whatnot, it will always be a breeze.
The first thing you’re going to need is a Sportmonks API token, which you can acquire by creating a Mysportmonks account.
Making requests is simple. Add your API token as a parameter to your request:
This request will only return data back if current-day matches are ongoing that are covered by your plan.
Token usage is measured against the endpoint rate limits, which are accessible in your Mysportmonks.
Sportmonks’s API flexibility
I briefly mentioned how our APIs are incredibly flexible. Time to get more in-depth. With Sportmonks’ APIs, you can fully customize and decide what data you want to receive by adding parameters to your requests.
Every endpoint has a set of parameters or, as we like to call them: includes. For example, the livescore endpoint has the following includes available:
localTeam, visitorTeam, substitutions, goals, cards, other, corners, lineup, bench, sidelined, stats, comments, tvstations, highlights, league, season, round, stage, referee, events, venue, odds, flatOdds, inplay, localCoach, visitorCoach, group, trends, firstAssistant, secondAssistant, fourthOfficial
For example, we can add team information to our request by extending the request with ‘&include=’
Want events and line-ups as well? No problem:
We can go even further beyond simple includes. Nested includes allow you to request relations on relations, which essentially means you can combine things. It sounds confusing, but don’t worry! We’ll show you how it can be done.
For example, we want to request events of a match, but we want more information about the players who are linked to these events. So, we want to know more about player X, who scored a goal, or player Y, who got a red card. We want to know his nationality, first and last name, but such information is not included in the standard events.
That’s why we create a nested include with ‘.player’
But, wait, you can do more! You can add in another include, such as events.player.position.
Now that you know how great our product is, it is time to convince you to subscribe to one of our plans! Money is an important factor when it comes to selecting an API provider. Getting good quality data for an affordable price back then in 2016 was incredibly difficult.
Luckily, I went through those hardships for you and founded Sportmonks. At Sportmonks can proudly offer you an amazing, highly flexible, and fast football API product for a fair price.
In fact, we believe that customers should have the opportunity to test out our APIs in-depth before they commit to a subscription. That’s why we created the free plan. This plan allows users to fully test our API’s many features at no cost for two domestic football leagues: Scottish Premiership and the Danish Superliga.
If you like what you see, you can upgrade to our various advanced data plans. Have a look for yourself.
Our Free Plan comes with the two domestic football leagues: the Scottish Premiership and the Danish Superliga. This Free Plan gives you access to 180 API calls per minute per endpoint and comes with all of our standard data features. It will allow you to test most of our API’s functionalities at zero cost. This free plan will stay free forever, so take however long you need to make sure our API is the API.
We are quite confident that you’ll like what you see in our Free Plan. Afterward, you can upgrade to one of our paid plans. At the time of writing, we offer over 1000+ leagues worldwide, allowing you to customize which data features you would like and offer you extra API calls and webhooks.
We currently offer three standardized plans
Starting at a price of … euros, the Euro Plan offers both monthly and yearly pricing. The plan includes 2000 API requests per hour/endpoint for over …+ leagues.
Starting at a price of … euros, the Worldwide Plan offers both monthly and yearly pricing. The plan includes 2000 API requests per hour/endpoint for over 100+ leagues.
This is the plan for the true entrepreneur. It covers anything you would possibly need to make your business idea a success. You can contact our sales team to get a rundown of the pricing and what’s included in this plan.
All three paid plans come with basic, standard, or advanced data features. This means that there are actually 9 plans in total. Click on our coverage page for an overview of all our data feature sets.
Last but not least, we offer you the possibility to create your own custom plan. With this, you can choose only to have a few domestic leagues like the English Premier League and Bundesliga. You can also fully customize which data features you would like to have included. Anything is possible! Contact our sales team, and they will gladly help you out!
Wrapping it up
This was quite a lengthy blog, but I hope you have gotten a little wiser. Working with fantasy games, betting websites, and whatnot require precise, accurate, and fast sports data, which is something that can be hard to find.
I created Sportmonks with the idea of providing people with high-quality data for an affordable price. Since then, Sportmonks has over 700 paying customers and 14000 accounts worldwide.
Who knows, perhaps we might become your data provider?