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Originally published April 17, 2016 at 9:04 PM | Page modified April 17, 2016 at 9:27 PM

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No surprise: Seahawks stir up the most buzz, according to app


Seattle Times staff reporter

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Inside sports business

The votes are in on what fans across America rank as the most exciting Seattle sports contests of the past few years.

No, not just Seattle-based fans. In fact, you didn’t really get a vote. Nobody did — except for a computer.

Yes, in today’s advanced technology world, computer algorithms have now been designed to measure the “excitement” of sports contests for fans in real-time. And a company called “Thuuz” — a take on the word “enthusiam” — has harnessed those algorithms into a smartphone application that tells fans when something exciting is happening in a game so they can tune in and watch.

“You don’t have to sit there flipping channels,’’ said Warren Packard, CEO of the Palo Alto, Calif., company. “You can be looking at a list of all the games and see alerts based on the enthusiasm level.’’

And the Thuuz Sports app shows that, since it hit the market back in 2013, the Seahawks have had six games notch the highest excitement rating possible — a perfect 100. Among the most prominent was the team’s 28-22 overtime win over Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game last year at Century Link Field. Yeah, many of you would pick the Super Bowl win over Denver two years ago, but remember, that was a dud for non-Seahawks fans given the ensuing blowout.

Thuuz also licenses its proprietary meta-data to television networks to help them set programming schedules based on perceived excitement potential leading into games. Up to now, to respect that part of their business, Thuuz kept the app low key and attracted users via word-of-mouth instead of touting it more publicly.

But those TV networks are now allowing customers on their own websites to instantly create and download video highlight packages based off the exciting plays identified by Thuuz technology. In return, Thuuz is publicizing itself more and tinkering with some video highlights it can display via the app as well.

Thuuz licenses the services of companies like STATS Inc. — which record the statistical play-by-play of every game — to feed that data into its computers. From there, the algorithms sort through it, seeking a half-dozen key indicators that determine a game’s excitement level: pace of action, parity between the teams playing, novelty of the plays being recorded, momentum shifts, context and social media buzz.

Things like more scoring, yards-per-carry, three-pointers and blocked shots factor into the game-pace measurement. For parity, two evenly matched teams — whether it’s in time-of-possession, shooting percentage or something else — are deemed more exciting than blowout games.

So-called novelty plays might include a hat trick in hockey, a bicycle-kick goal in soccer, or a blocked field goal in football. For momentum, the algorithms seek out improvements by a trailing team in things like shooting percentage to determine whether a comeback is about to occur.

The context part looks at what’s at stake: With rivalry games, or those with playoff implications usually driving up the score.

“If the Yankees play the Red Sox, or Michigan plays Ohio State, that’s going to be big no matter what,’’ Packard said.

The app monitors Twitter and Facebook to see what fans are saying about the games: Focusing on keywords that might indicate on-field tension over a brawl, or missed call.

“Those kinds of things really add to the excitement level,’’ Packard said.

App users are shown lists of that day’s games, with their “excitement’’ scores posted next to them inside yellow, orange and red balls — red being the most exciting — and changing throughout the contest.

A big game might start with a high score inside a red ball, but quickly drop to a lower score in an orange or yellow ball if a first-half blowout ensues.

All six Seahawks games scoring a perfect 100 were decided by a touchdown or less.

Five Mariners games had perfect 100 scores, including Hisashi Iwakuma’s no-hitter in a 3-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles last Aug. 12. Another was an 8-7 win in 10 innings over Oakland last April — in which the Mariners blew a 7-3 lead in the ninth only to later win on a Nelson Cruz home run.

The Sounders had three games register 100, including a season-ending playoff loss to FC Dallas last Nov. 8 on penalty kicks in the Western Conference semifinals.

Huskies football and men’s basketball didn’t generate quite the same excitement.

The basketball squad had a lone 100 score for a 96-93 double-overtime win over UCLA this past New Year’s Day.

But the football team’s most exciting game of the past three years scored only 87: the Huskies’ 30-22 loss to Oklahoma State in last year’s Cactus Bowl.

Fans can customize their lists on the app to monitor favorite teams and get alerts when an exciting event is taking place. They can program their local cable service into the app and be told what channel to flip to.

And that’s important, Packard says, with the current onslaught of NBA and NHL playoff games and the start of baseball season making it tough to choose.

Packard says casual fans who may not tune in to that day’s games will appreciate an alert notifying them a no-hitter or some other fantastic finish may be about to occur.

“There’re a lot of sports going on,’’ he said. “We’re going to help you sort through that.’’

Huskies basketball
Top five most exciting Huskies basketball games (2013-2016)
ScoreDateExcitement score
1. Huskies 96, UCLA 93 (2OT)Jan. 1, 2016100/100
2. Oregon St. 82, Huskies 81Feb. 24, 201697/100
3. Oregon 83, Huskies 77March 10, 201696/100
4. Huskies 87, USC 85Jan. 3, 201695/100
5. Utah 80, Huskies 75Jan. 24,201693/100
Source: Thuuz Sports
Mariners
Top five most exciting Mariners games (2013-2016)
ScoreDateExcitement score
1. Mariners 3, Orioles 0Aug. 12, 2015100/100
2. Mariners 8, A’s 7 (10)April 12, 2015100/100
3. Astros 7, Mariners 6Sept 30, 2015100/100
4. Yankees 5, Mariners 3 (11)June 2, 2015100/100
5. Indians 10, Mariners 8 (10)May 20, 2013100/100
Source: Thuuz Sports
Huskies football
Top five most exciting Huskies football games (2013-2016)
ScoreDateExcitement score
1. Oklahoma St. 30, Huskies 22Jan 3, 201587/100
2. Stanford 31, Huskies 28Oct. 5, 201385/100
3. Utah 34, Huskies 23Nov. 7, 201585/100
4. Cal 30, Huskies 24Sept. 26, 201584/100
5. Huskies 59, E. Wash. 52Sept. 6, 201483/100
Source: Thuuz Sports
Sounders
Top five most exciting Sounders games
ScoreDateExcitement score
1. Sounders 3, Real Salt Lake 2Sept. 12, 2014100/100
2. Sounders 4, Portland 4April 5, 2014100/100
3. FC Dallas 2 (4), Sounders 1 (2)Nov. 8, 2015100/100
4. Sounders 2, FC Dallas 1May 7, 201496/100
5. Sounders 2, Philadelphia 1May 3, 201496/100
Source: Thuuz Sports
Mariners
Top five most exciting Mariners games (2013-16)
ScoreDateExcitement score
1. Mariners 3, Orioles 0Aug. 12, 2015100/100
2. Mariners 8, A’s 7 (10)April 12, 2015100/100
3. Astros 7, Mariners 6Sept 30, 2015100/100
4. Yankees 5, Mariners 3 (11)June 2, 2015100/100
5. Indians 10, Mariners 8 (10)May 20, 2013100/100
Source: Thuuz Sports
Sounders
Top five most exciting Sounders games (2013-16)
ScoreDateExcitement score
1. Sounders 3, Real Salt Lake 2Sept. 12, 2014100/100
2. Sounders 4, Portland 4April 5, 2014100/100
3. FC Dallas 2 (4), Sounders 1 (2)Nov. 8, 2015100/100
4. Sounders 2, FC Dallas 1May 7, 201496/100
5. Sounders 2, Philadelphia 1May 3, 201496/100
Source: Thuuz Sports
Huskies football
Top five most exciting Huskies football games (2013-16)
ScoreDateExcitement score
1. Oklahoma St. 30, Huskies 22Jan 3, 201587/100
2. Stanford 31, Huskies 28Oct. 5, 201385/100
3. Utah 34, Huskies 23Nov. 7, 201585/100
4. Cal 30, Huskies 24Sept. 26, 201584/100
5. Huskies 59, E. Wash. 52Sept. 6, 201483/100
Source: Thuuz Sports
Huskies basketball
Top five most exciting Huskies basketball games (2013-16)
ScoreDateExcitement score
1. Huskies 96, UCLA 93 (2OT)Jan. 1, 2016100/100
2. Oregon St. 82, Huskies 81Feb. 24, 201697/100
3. Oregon 83, Huskies 77March 10, 201696/100
4. Huskies 87, USC 85Jan. 3, 201695/100
5. Utah 80, Huskies 75Jan. 24,201693/100
Source: Thuuz Sports

Geoff Baker is a sports enterprise and investigative reporter who writes a column on sports business. Baker: gbaker@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8286. On Twitter @GeoffBakerTIMES



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