Tweets can help predict the outcome of soccer matches

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New research shows that Twitter activity can help predict the result of football matches when combined with betting market prices.


The tone of Twitter posts can predict when a team is more likely to win and soccer bets are mispriced, the study by the University of East Anglia (UEA) found.

Researchers examined 13.8 million tweets – an average of 5.2 tweets per second – during an English Premier League (EPL) season. These were compared with in-play betting prices available at the same time on Betfair, the world’s largest online betting exchange.

They found that if the combined tone of tweets in a given second during a match was positive – as measured by a micro-blogging dictionary – then the team was more likely to win than the betting market prices implied.

Tweets were particularly informative in the aftermath of goals and red cards, suggesting that content is particularly useful in assessing the implications and significance of new information.

Social is used as a forecasting tool by a variety of firms and agencies, but the researchers wanted to find out how useful and accurate it is. They measured the aggregate tone of all tweets for each team, in each second of 372 matches that took place during the 2013/14 season.

The study, published today in the journal Economic Inquiry, was conducted by Dr Alasdair Brown, of UEA’s School of Economics, and colleagues at the Universities of Dundee and Reading, and Birkbeck, University of London.

Dr Brown, a senior lecturer in economics, said: “The modern forecaster has a number of tools at their disposal. In particular, and social media have proved extremely popular.

“We know that prediction markets, such as Betfair, generally lead to accurate forecasts, and outperform…

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