SofaScore is a sports app that reports on game outcomes and results in 22 sports. It also provides player stats and analytics across several hundreds football leagues to help fans get information on their favorite teams and players. Fans get real-time updated stats to help them make more informed decisions for building their fantasy teams. Their Android and iOS app along with their website at sofascore.com currently supports over 15M monthly active users.
Based in Croatia, co-founders Ivan Beslic, COO and Zlatko Hrkac, CEO have a long standing history that extends beyond them doing business together. They were childhood friends that grew up together on the same street. They each progressed along with their respective careers, but at the same time they aspired to create something “big” together, something that unites their mutual personal interests and wider market needs. It wasn’t long before they figured out that doing something related to sports would be their ticket to success.
The Evolution of SofaScore
SofaScore is the latest rebranding initiative for the company. As their global presence began to expand, they needed a unique name that would translate well across multiple languages. “SofaScore was selected as our name, because our subscribers want to be connected anywhere to get live score updates - even from their sofa at home” explained Beslic. “We were initially focused on providing score updates for football games in Europe. But today we cover expanded countries in South America and Africa - and we’ve added multiple other sports including American football, motorsports, basketball and many others!”
“Our most recent enhancements now provide individual player stats and analytics beyond live scores. We’ve partnered with Opta Sports and SportRadar; the leading authorities for live data analysis and player statistics.” SofaScore’s subscribers rely on the app to provide up to date score reporting and player analysis. These analytics are vital for real sports fans, while also valuable for individual athletes and coaches
The challenges of growth
As their markets expanded, so did the requirements to meet their users’ app experience expectations. They were also faced with increasing competition from other emerging competing products and services.
“The number of sports leagues we were covering increased by over 10x, which also meant we needed to build a more resilient app architecture to support an increasing number of requests to more services and APIs for live scores.” explained Josip Stuhli, their CTO.
“One of the largest markets for us is in South America, where football is a national sport almost in every country. As is common in many developing economies however, best in class cellular network connectivity was not widely available across the region.” “Our users were complaining about slow reporting in our app, where the delays in updates didn’t accurately reflect the current score. We needed to figure out how to get a better handle on the problem.”
Success of SofaScore is largely dependent on a mobile app that works fast, especially when live games are taking place, increasing the simultaneous user traffic on the app. Despite their best efforts to develop an app that ran flawlessly on the user’s device, they were still at the mercy of poor bandwidth and network connectivity in many of the emerging markets where their users were based.
How Cloudflare helps
SofaScore started testing Cloudflare in 2015, and has been using it to serve all of their customers ever since. Cloudflare provides a cost effective means to secure their web presence, with fixed predictable pricing. In 2018, Stuhli discovered Cloudflare’s Mobile SDK on the Cloudflare blog. They were particularly interested in its ability to provide mobile network visibility and measurement for their app.
“We downloaded the SDK, and began exploring the process to integrate it into our app. We were interested in using the SDK to understand how our app performs in different countries and how much impact poor network conditions had on the user experience. We were immediately able to identify regions with the highest traffic and requests and able to see the equivalent network error rates in these regions” explained Beslic.
Once they identified specific issues, they needed to explore ways to remediate these challenges. “It was obvious at this point that we had issues in specific regions, and needed to explore how we could go about fixing these issues. The fact that Cloudflare’s SDK offered a turnkey acceleration module made that process even easier” added Beslic. “We turned on the ASAP module for specific domains and service calls, and began to monitor the metrics in the SDK dashboard. “Since we integrated the SDK, we’ve seen increases in in-app session engagement across all of the regions we serve.”
What’s next for SofaScore?
SofaScore covers 22 sports with football being the main focus of their current subscribers, and are already gearing up for the 2018/19 season across major upcoming leagues and tournaments. Over the past few years they introduced unique SofaScore statistical live player ratings which have become widely recognized as one of the leading player performance indicators.
They recently launched a feature called “AttackMomentum,” a simple way for fans to follow their games that leverage proprietary algorithms to provide real time game insights. These graphical statistical representations were very well received by their subscribers and they plan on evolving these features even further.
“We have many ideas and there's a lot of work ahead of us so it is vital that we have the right infrastructure to handle our current subscriber workloads plus the new users we anticipate bringing on board. Some of our ideas are to cover even more sports and to provide the same level of accuracy in our statistical analysis” states Hrkac. “Cloudflare is a key partner in success for SofaScore, and our deployment of their SDK is a crucial investment to ensure the growth of our company” he added.