Football Api - How to choose
Football APIs 2019: How to select the right data provider
Written by: Jur
December 21th 2018,
Selecting the right Football API for your sports business, game or hobby project is a difficult process. Whether you are looking for Livescores, Fixtures, Standings, Odds, or any other kind of Football Data, the questions are always the same: Which provider suits your needs? How do you pick the right one? In this blog, I will explain how I travelled this road, and which common Football API shortcomings I faced, followed by a deep dive into the API I think you should explore.
Once in a while we all have ingenious ideas (or at least, we think we do). Let’s suppose you have a great business concept in mind, for which you need Football Data. Proper Football Data. You dream of building a successful Football Website, Football App, Fantasy Football Game, Predictive Betting Website, or anything that requires high-quality Football Data Feeds.
Once you have the broad strokes figured out, the long and arduous search for reliable data providers starts. You will soon find a jungle of them online, which eventually may even leave you more confused than when you first set out. Careful though, there are lots of niches to cover, and many pitfalls to avoid.
Perhaps along the way, you will find what seems like the perfect provider. One that promises you great quality, stays up to date, and seems like the answer to all your prayers. But can you really trust them? Is their data really as reliable as they claim? Do they offer fast Livescores? Or are they just pretending to have fast Livescores?
Of course, you don’t want to spend money on the wrong provider. Unfortunately, it happens to almost every budding sports entrepreneur. So, let me help you in the right direction:
Common API shortcomings:
You come across a Football API that offers you Free Data. You think: “Wow, a free data feed? That’s exactly what I need!” But after a while, you notice that the data is utter rubbish. You’ve already spent quite some time and money on your project, but the low data quality is damaging your business. In fact, you are losing customers.
You will see inaccurate data at almost every provider. Lagging Livescores, duplicate data, and missing match events, to name a few. But especially with major leagues, accurate data is KEY for a successful business. Even longstanding customers will run away if your data is consistently off the mark.
Another problem you may come across is that those providers who do have a reputation of reliability and accuracy are ridiculously expensive. Let's face it, we all know there are some providers on the market with exorbitant prices an averagely-sized company simply can’t afford.
As I myself ran into these shortcomings with several providers time and again, I decided to start Sportmonks. My main goal is to provide the best API in the market, that eliminates all these problems. Let me guide you through the process of selecting the right API for you.
The most important 5 API characteristics
Having a smoothly running Football API is the recipe for success in the businesses of Football Data and Football Betting Data. In order to become a pro and crack the code towards ultimate success, here are a few things you need to keep in mind.
You need good data quality. Now, what is the definition of good data quality? This is when your data is accurate, complete, fast, and up-to-date. I know that so far, I have been focussing on accuracy a lot, but it really deserves all that attention, because it is so essential. Low data quality can seriously harm your credibility and customer trust. Many providers claim to have high-quality data, but they don’t, on closer inspection. Investigate it thoroughly before you trust them!
Depending on your needs, data coverage may be another critical succes factor. Check the leagues your provider covers. Especially if you want your business to grow in the future, try to select the API with high football leagues coverage. You don’t know how fast your business may grow, and switching APIs halfway is really not what you want, because it will cause extra development costs and delays. You can easily prevent this by choosing the right provider right away.
Speed of Livescores and match events
If livescores are part of your business concept, make sure they are FAST. A 45-second delay for livescore updates can really harm your business. In the Football Data business, you need to be spot-on, and that requires a provider that offers real-time speed. Be sure to test it when you are comparing different providers!
Lots of providers have a terribly static API setup. So, when you want to customize one to your Football Data business concept, you may find yourself wasting too much time building inefficient and complex work-arounds in its code. A flexible API allows you to simply add or remove parameters from your JSON requests, making customization a breeze.
To kick-start your implementation, your provider’s support quality is critical as well. How quickly do they reply to your emails? Do they have proper documentation on their website? Are you able to test the API from the documentation itself? How quickly do they resolve your issues? Don’t underestimate the importance of you data provider’s support!
The topics above are only a few important aspects to consider when choosing the right Football API. Of course, there’s a ton of other factors to keep in mind. But now that you are familiar with the basic ingredients to the recipe of success, here is how Sportmonks covers all of these.
Sportmonks’ Football API: How does it work?
So, I told you about frequent shortcomings of Football APIs, which are critical success factors when choosing the right API. Now I want to explain how we rule things at Sportmonks. I will describe this by taking a (technical) deep dive into one of our endpoints, the Livescore endpoint, by answering three questions: 1) What’s in it, 2) How do you make an API request to the Livescore endpoint, and 3) How can you take advantage of Sportmonks API’s flexibility (for the techies among us).
Via the Livescore API, you can obtain live data feeds for football matches of the current day. It covers real-time data and match events such as Goals, Cards, Substitutions, and Minutes. Via this endpoint, you can also include data like Line-Ups, Stats, Comments, Odds, and many other features. For in-play data, the matches will appear and disappear in the Livescore/Now API around 15 minutes before and after the game. Do you need Match Schedules and Results well before and after the game? You can select this in our Fixture endpoint.
One of the competitive advantages of Sportmonks are our lightning-fast Livescores, compared to other providers. We think the speed of providing Match Events like Goals, Cards Substitutions, and Minutes is a game-changer for your business. Just imagine what it would be like if you got score updates several minutes after an event? You need them within seconds!
We never cache Livescore endpoint data, and we are very proud of our live data coverage of no less than 600+ leagues.
Making an API request
Making API requests with the Sportmonks API is fairly easy. Whether it is about our Fixture API, Statistics API, Betting API, Livescore API, or anything else. Firstly, you will need an API Token. As soon as you subscribe to Sportmonks, you can create a token to acces our data. This is done through the Settings page, which is available once you are logged in. Please make sure you store your token safely.
To authorize a request to our API, you must add the api_token parameter to your request. This parameter’s value is the actual token, and will be provided upon its creation.
So how do I make such a request to the Livescore endpoint?
It’s possible that the Livescore endpoint doesn’t return any results. That’s because it only shows current-day matches for leagues covered by your plan.
Your token usage will be measured against the endpoint rate limits, and is accessible via your Settings Dashboard.
Using Sportmonks API’s flexibility
Our customers especially appreciate Sportmonks’ API flexibility, and I definitely think it is one of our strengths compared to other providers.
You can build your own responses by simply adding parameters to your request. For every endpoint, we have a set of ‘Includes’ available.
For the Livescore API, the available includes are:
Let’s add Team information to the response by extending the request with ‘&include=’.
And what about adding Events and Line-Ups as well?
Easy-peasy, isn’t it? Want to see the responses to these requests? Let’s first add one more extra feature: ‘Nested Includes’.
Regular ‘Includes’ already give you a wealth of response options. But Sportmonks API’s flexibility lets you take things one step further with ‘Nested Includes’. These are basically Relations on Relations, giving you the option to combine, for example, Event Details with Player Details within a single request. How does that work?
We’ve just made a request using the Events include. If, for example, Messi has scored a Goal, you will see L. Messi and his player_id in the Events response. But what if you want player details like Firstname, Lastname, or Nationality in your response as well? The Nested Include will help you with that, if you add .player in the request. See below:
For some endpoints, you can even go two levels deeper. You can test it yourself. Try adding events.player.position to your request.
Now that we have guided you through the process of choosing the right API, and deep-dived into the Sportmonks API, let’s tackle the most important factor – your wallet.
I have been in your shoes, and I have learnt the hard way. The main reason for coming up with Sportmonks for me was to help my customers avoid all those struggles, and curb excess costs. For this reason, Sportmonks’ pricing is unlike any other quality Sports API provider. We offer good quality WITHOUT asking an arm and a leg.
In fact, to give you a head start, we have specially designed the Free Plan for you. This lets you freely access our data and test-drive our Free Football API, while it gives us the opportunity to show you our fantastic product.
Once you get the hang of it, you can move on to the more advanced Paid Plans. But even our paid plans are priced at bargain rates. The reason behind this is that we care about our customers, and provide you with the best of the best for as little as possible.
Our Free Plan offers you a range of things that can kick-start your business. This includes access to the Free Football API for the Danish Superliga and Scottish Premiership. It will be Free forever, so you can enjoy our high-quality football data feeds for as long as you want. And then end up buying it, because you’ll love it so much, you’ll want more! The plan comes with all the standard data features, so being free doesn’t mean we’ll be putting you in a compromising position. On top of this, you get 180+ API calls per hour/endpoint! How about that?
Some other providers offer Free plans as well, and some even have Free Football Data feeds for many competitions. But believe me, their quality is mostly very poor, and you can’t rely on them when you want to get your business or project off the ground.
One thing we are confident about is that once you have explored the Free Plan, buying one of our paid plans will be the next thing on your to-do list. What about adding one or more of the 800+ leagues we cover? Would you like some extra Data Features with that? Extra API calls?
We offer three kinds of standardized plans, designed for your specific requirements.
Starting at a price of EUR 25, the European Plan offers both monthly and yearly pricing. It includes 2000 requests per hour/endpoint and 20+ European leagues.
Starting at a price of EUR 75 with both monthly and yearly pricing, the Worldwide Plan offers you a world of possibilities. 2000 requests per hour/endpoint and 50+ leagues worldwide.
The Pro Plan is the absolute kicker! Offering both monthly and yearly pricing, it gives you 2000 requests per hour/endpoint with ALL leagues we cover! Definitely the best-priced offer you will find on the market! Mind-blowing!
All of these 3 plans come with a set of Data Features: Basic, Standard or Advanced Data Features. So, we can offer you 9 different plans, to totally meet your needs with one of them.
Do you have special requirements that don’t fit the above? No worries, we can also compile a customized plan, in which you can choose the Leagues and Data Features you want. Contact our Sales department for your Custom Plan.
Wrapping it up
This business demands that you have a reliable data provider with stellar performance. Without these traits, you run the risk of losing your customers, and it will pull you into a downward spiral.
By now, you may have a clear idea of all the needed ingredients for your recipe of success. Without these, you may find yourself going through a rough patch. Just imagine the frustration caused by slow updates, bad quality, and wrong data. Wouldn’t that be utterly miserable?
Our platform offers everything you will ever need. Sportmonks has a highly accurate data feed with all the Football Data you need, including Players, Teams, Leagues, Matches, Odds, and many more. All just one click away.
So if an ingenious idea popped into your head, and you’re looking for one base to cover all your Football API needs, you’ve come to just the right place.