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Summary:

Super data analyst Nate Silver talks about his plans for the new-and-expanded FiveThirtyEight blog from ESPN. Anyone wanting Silver to run in with in-game analysis or predictions might be disappointed.

Nate Silver
photo: Barb Darrow

If you’re expecting Nate Silver and his team to break into ESPN’s baseball broadcasts with running predictions about the game in progress based on their expert data analysis, you’ll be disappointed.

Nate SilverThe plan is to go with more a daily magazine-type vibe. “We’ll be more like Grantland. We won’t go moment to moment, we want to win the long game,” Silver said in an interview Thursday morning after his keynote at at Hubspot’s Inbound 2013 conference. His recipe calls for something like three or four long feature-like posts per day, as well as even longer-term visualizations, with some shorter hits as needed.

As for in-programing instant analysis, ESPN already has a “huge stats and info” team that does a lot of that, he said.

In July, news broke that Silver, famous for “calling” the 2012 presidential election results, was leaving the New York Times and taking his popular FiveThirtyEight blog to ESPN. There he will broaden it beyond politics to sports and other topics. “The mix will be something like one-third sports, one-third politics and one-third other things,” he said.

Silver has had mixed results in the sports prediction business. He missed the call on the 2013 2011 Super Bowl champions for example, when the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco Forty-Niners

I asked Silver, who grew up as a Detroit Tigers fan, whether working in sports would spoil his passion for the game. “It could, kind of, but it also means you have a really cool job.”

  1. “Silver has had mixed results in the sports prediction business. He missed the call on the 2011 Super Bowl champions for example, when the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco Giants.”

    Football teams usually beat baseball teams in the Super Bowl.

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    1. Brain cramp…. wrong sport. thanks for the pickup. all fixed.

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  2. The Ravens and 49ers played in 2011.

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  3. that superbowl was 2013, not 2011

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    1. i am batting zero in my stats here. fixed date.

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  4. It is silly to say he has had mixed results in sports and the cite a “wrong call” in the super bowl. If you followed Nate Silver’s methodology at all, he is making percentage based predictions. Just because something is 60% does not mean he is calling the game for the 60% side. It means he is saying they win 60% of the time.

    All that is needed is basic understanding of math, or game theory, or statistics, to know that it’s not a wrong call.

    I am not saying he is right about everything – I am just saying there is variance in statistical analysis. It’s not A or B and hes right or wrong.

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