NFL fans, developers, researchers, fantasy football competitors use APIs to enrich their (and our) collective experience of the Super Bowl. What can the Super Bowl tell us about APIs?
Application programming interfaces (APIs) have come a long way since the 60s.
In 2019, applications have an average of 10-15 API integrations. Programmable Web has seen an average of over 2,000 new APIs added annually. Forbes noted that 2017 was shaping up to the “year of the API economy” and the Deloitte 2018 Tech Trends Report called APIs a strategic mandate.
In short, APIs are everywhere and the Super Bowl is no exception.
At first glance, sporting events and programming can seem worlds apart. So why have sports enthusiasts embraced APIs? And what can the permeation of APIs into the NFL tell us about this widespread API proliferation?
Building anticipation with predictive analysis
Image by Arina P Habich
The build-up to the game is at least half the fun. For some, game day preparations involve picking up a gallon of guacamole and bags of chips to match. On the other hand, there are folks who are pulling out their laptops to run predictive models for game day projections and to pull together the best possible fantasy football team.
To run predictive models, you need data. The simplest way to access the data is to tap into the NFL APIs that are readily available. The official NFL API is a good place to start but a leading API aggregator, Rapid API, has made it easy for us and have listed the top seven NFL APIs available in their marketplace.
By providing access to accurate and up-to-date game, player, league, injury, and even weather stats, these NFL APIs allow enthusiasts to create reasonably reliable predictions. These insights increase interest in the game even for folks who may be more interested in the predictions than the actual sport.
The anticipatory momentum created by predictive models, powered by APIs, increase interest in the event, contribute to higher viewership, and opens up another layer of possible fan interactions for the Super Bowl.
Creating richer game experiences
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Historical data is useful for building predictions for a game’s outcome or a particular player or team’s performance. However, APIs can do more than provide historical data.
Many NFL APIs, such as the FantasyData API, Armchair Analysis NFL Data API, and the Sportsradar NFL API, provide real-time updates. Some offer continuous game feeds and regular updates to other information such as injuries, rosters, and team standings at varying frequencies.
With this ability to serve data without a major lag, APIs easily enable users to adjust their predictions in response to game day occurrences in near real-time. Moreover, the real-time data provided via APIs can provide immediate feedback on the impact of an unexpected event.
With APIs facilitating a conversation between data and what’s happening on the field, the in-game events can be understood in a contextualized way. This makes for more meaningful game analysis and a deeper understanding of the dynamic variables that ultimately determine the outcome of the Super Bowl.
Continuing engagement with post-game analysis
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Moreover, the end of a game does not mark the end of the buzz. After all, there has not been a single documented case of spectators shuffling out of stadiums in dead silence after a horn signaled the end of a game.
APIs play a role in building the anticipation leading up to the Super Bowl, supporting meaningful real-time insights during the Super Bowl, and sustaining fan engagement after the Super Bowl.
First, there’s a feedback loop that takes this season’s Super Bowl data and turns it into a dataset to optimize next year’s predictions. Second, the API ecosystem is vast enough to capture and correlate data related to the Super Bowl as well as data directly generated from the game.
For example, researchers used the Twitter search API to conduct sentiment analysis via 328,000 real-time tweets posted by fans during the 2016 Super Bowl 50 game between the Panthers and the Broncos. The research validated two theories in sports management: affective disposition and opponent-process.
But what does it matter?
Image by Evgenii Matrosov
Information is everywhere and we can capture it with precision. With APIs, anyone can access externally collected data and use it to build more robust interactions and deeper understandings of our world.
This is true of NFL enthusiasts and businesses alike.
Just like how APIs can increase and sustain interest and engagement with the Super Bowl, businesses are tapping into APIs to achieve similar goals. After all, a connected digital experience provides a seamless user experience that increases platform stickiness and, in turn, user retention.
In fact, leading marketing technology companies such as Facebook, Google, Wix, HubSpot, and more have integrated the Shutterstock API to deliver frictionless creative experiences within their product interface.
The Shutterstock API provides fast access to more than 250 million images, video clips, and music tracks for immediate UX enhancements. Like NFL APIs, the Shutterstock API also updates in real time when new assets are added daily and we’re adding over one million new assets weekly. Lastly, we can provide industry insights based on historical API data to help you make informed decisions regarding best performing content and more.
Cover image by PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek