Sportlobster is a sports social network, available on desktop, iOS, Android and Apple Watch. The website creates an interactive tool for sports fans including live scores, schedules, news, rumours, photos/videos, blogs from fellow fans, and social connections to professional athletes. Sportlobster also delivers real-time updates and alerts to connected users for live sporting events.
Sports are Real-time, Technology Needs to be Too
When building an application or website for covering live events, and sports in particular, immediacy is key. Alerts and notifications need to be published and received by users in real-time, not tens of seconds or even minutes after the data is sent.
One of the key features of Sportlobster is their real-time notification system for streaming score and play updates to connected users. The system delivers push notifications to mobile and Apple Watch users, as well as notifications in the desktop website in real-time.
Delivering Real-time Notifications to 1000s of Users Simultaneously
With thousands of users connected simultaneously to a single live event stream, Sportlobster needed a way to deliver push notifications to several different platforms and operating systems at up-to-the-second speed. Dropped messages and unreliable notification streams would tarnish the overall functionality of the application and fail to emulate the real life action taking place.
“Real-time is extremely valuable to Sportlobster, because the world of sport is incredibly fast-paced and therefore we need to update our users equally as fast. Live scores must be updated on the fly – we cannot be waiting up to 30 seconds to one minute. We have to be as quick as other social networks,” said Nico Cary, Chief Innovation Officer of Sportlobster.
To ensure a reliable and fast notification feature, Sportlobster needed a robust, scaled data stream network. With users spread across the world, global reliability was key.
When deciding whether to implement a commercial option or build their own custom real-time backend infrastructure, they discovered the latter would take up to six months to develop, scale and deploy. Some of the members of the Sportlobster development team had built a similar open source, custom backend, and were aware of the heavy resources allocated to do so.
“We would’ve had to build it from scratch. We had a couple developers on our team who had built a real-time backend before, and it took them 6 months. Had they known PubNub existed, they would’ve definitely used PubNub,” said Kristian Nybakk of Sportlobster.
Instead of building out the real-time infrastructure on their own, Sportlobster chose the PubNub Data Stream Network to deliver real-time notifications and alerts. With a massive user base, as well as a constantly evolving app, PubNub’s globally-distributed network, low latencies, ease of implementation, and wide set of features separated it from other options.
“It allows us to push real-time alerts to our users. We have integrated PubNub so that we can push 50,000 notifications within two seconds, which is unreal. It is vital to quickly engage with our users for when there is, let’s say, a goal. We need to hit the fans as soon as possible and PubNub enables us to achieve this, as they have so many servers ready to go,” said Cary.
A robust, global network to connect users across the world was a necessary requirement that factored into Sportlobster’s decision to go with PubNub. The app needed to be able to stream notifications to thousands of users simultaneously. And as the user base continues to grow, the Sportlobster push notification system will have scale as well.
“By implementing PubNub, we have been able to target the huge user base we have with great effect. We have more than two million users on Sportlobster and, with the system we had, it would’ve been difficult to quickly hit every single one with a push notification. PubNub enables us to scale push notifications extremely quickly. It won’t be an issue for us when more users join the network – PubNub will handle this,” said Cary.
Apple Watch Push Notifications via PubNub
The newly-released Sportlobster Apple Watch application allows wearers to receive custom notifications and alerts directly to their Apple Watch. Users can add teams on their iOS mobile application, and live push notifications are delivered in real-time via PubNub with score and game updates.
“Sports fans are constantly on the lookout for updates and want to be alerted as soon as a key moment occurs. That’s why they trawl through social media or download mobile apps for up-to-the-minute notifications. By featuring Sportlobster on the Apple Watch, fans won’t even have to waste time in having to check their phone to stay updated. We are providing the most real-time experience, which is crucial for, and demanded by, fans,” added Cary.
A True Sports App
Implementing PubNub, Sportlobster significantly reduced development time and cost, and was able to focus on building application features, no backend infrastructure.
“PubNub’s saved us development costs, time and allowed Sportlobster to truly act as a sports app, which can provide real-time sports updates. There is a fantastic backend system with PubNub, which allows us to go in and debug any issues extremely quickly. This saves us a lot of hours and money each week. It wouldn’t be economical for us to go it alone,” said Cary.