An outage that lasted through the weekend and continued into Tuesday originating at data provider STATS Perform significantly disrupted daily fantasy sports contests across multiple platforms and is still in the process of being resolved.
Platforms big and small reported delays for live in-game scoring throughout the weekend, which affected DFS contests starting Saturday for college football and continued into Sunday for NFL, MLB, and NASCAR contests. Many companies put out multiple tweets via their main Twitter feeds and customer service accounts alerting users to the outages and potential delays in live scoring and payouts, but that did not stop customers from venting their frustrations over the lack of statistical information and payouts.
Multiple requests for comment from STATS Perform, which is headquartered in Chicago, have yet to be answered. It has not posted anything on its Twitter account since Friday.
By kickoff for Monday Night Football, FanDuel was optimistic it would be able to settle NFL contests and perhaps have occasional live scoring. As of 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, the banner across its fantasy landing page read, “Due to ongoing issues with our data provider, and to ensure accuracy of scoring, MNF will be settled Tue morning. We apologize for delays in settling CFB, NASCAR & MLB. We’re working hard on resolutions.”
At 9:35 a.m. ET, FanDuel’s Customer Support Twitter account put out the following update:
NFL Sunday contests have now been finalized and paid out, and MNF contests will be paid out today. We apologize for the delay in settling CFB, NASCAR, and MLB contests, our team is working hard on finalizing and paying out those contests as soon as possible.
— FD Customer Support (@FanDuel_Support) October 13, 2020
FanDuel most affected as users faced lineup issues
The main issue from the outage is users being unable to see their scores in the contests in which they were participating. What usually takes place is users know throughout the day’s games whether or not they are in line to win money. Without fantasy scores available, users do not know how many points they have, how many points their opponents have, or if plays unfolding in real time are going to impact their potential payouts from those contests.
Additionally, there is strategy involved prior to the later kickoffs (on a major Sunday NFL slate, the games starting after 4 p.m. ET) involving a “late swap” if rostered players have not played. Users try to create differentials in which trailing DFS players can move up the standings, while players who are leading in matchups try to block or protect their lead with such personnel moves. Not knowing the fantasy scores makes such decisions nearly impossible to assess.
A DraftKings spokesperson provided a statement to US Bets that read:
“DraftKings has made investments in redundancies for a wide variety of processes, including live statistics and scoring, to ensure minimal interruption for customers when this sort of situation arises. Our Customer Experience team is active 24-7 and responded quickly to address this issue with impacted players.”
We are continuing to work with our stats provider to ensure that yesterday's CFB stats are verified prior to paying out. We appreciate your patience while we work through this as quickly as possible.
— DraftKings CX Team (@DK_Assist) October 11, 2020
In the case of FanDuel, there was an added issue of not seeing the percentages of players rostered for contests. In this instance, stat providers are not responsible for that information. Each contest has a different draft percentage for a player based on how many entries in a specific contest rostered a certain player.
Following resolution of these issues (expected Mon 10/12), We will credit a 50% net lossback across impacted slates (where net losses above $10; paid as site credit; max $100 credit). Any user not credited under the lossback will receive a voucher to next week's Sunday Million.
— FD Customer Support (@FanDuel_Support) October 12, 2020
For some higher-stakes players who contribute hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the “rake” on a weekly basis, there has been disappointment over FanDuel’s offer of resolution. Some users expressed frustration FanDuel did not make more of an effort to alert users there could be a continuation of the live-scoring issues from Saturday into the Sunday schedule of NFL games and DFS contests.
— EM2 (@EmpireMaker2) October 12, 2020
FanDuel provided a statement to US Bets on Monday that read:
Our sports statistical provider for College Football, NFL, NASCAR, and MLB had a full data outage this weekend. It impacted live scoring and we have held settlement until we can verify scoring. We are aware of the impact this has had on customers and our in-house engineering teams are working through manual and new data source options to rectify this situation.
Sportsbooks unaffected, DFS platforms of all sizes hurt
The popularity of DFS contests, however, means the number of users affected by the data outage is potentially in the millions, which also means the amount of money in payouts currently pending the updating of statistics could be tens of millions of dollars.
Though FanDuel and DraftKings are readily recognizable names among DFS players, other smaller companies were impacted by the data outage and constructed workarounds to deal with it. Some were hand-generating statistical reports, and some turned to other data providers for help.
Please read this message from the President of RealTime Fantasy Sports. pic.twitter.com/iCAoabFQNm
— RTSports.com (@RTFSnews) October 12, 2020
“We saw that college stuff was happening Saturday,” said Stephen Wendell, co-founder and COO of Reality Sports Online, which offers its approximately 10,000 users a version of fantasy sports that puts an emphasis on more realistically simulating front office operations. “Stuff happens for moments all the time in this industry. [There was] no reason to believe Sunday was an issue, and no contact from STATS there would be an issue.”
Reality Sports Online is a three-man operation, and Wendell realized shortly after the 1 p.m. kickoffs that Sunday “was potentially going to be a long day.” Wendell summed up the communication he received from STATS shortly after that point as “the last 36 hours we got major problems and we don’t know how long it will take to fix them.”
Wendell’s group was able to reach out to a second provider for the information, but with unique player IDs, yardages, and bonuses, the construction is time-consuming. One silver lining for all operators is Week 5 does not end until after Tuesday night’s Buffalo-Tennessee game, and the lack of a Thursday Night Football game to start Week 6 means there will be extra time to review all data received from STATS Perform and any other providers.
Author’s Note: Chris Altruda was previously employed at STATS from 2005-16 as an editor and in an editorial freelance capacity until earlier this month.
Photo by Joe Nicholson / USA Today Sports