What is a Score Bug?

What is a score bug? How does it work? We provide the explanations and recommend a low-cost tool to create your own score bug.

19 January, 2023 Broadcasting and streaming


What is a Score Bug?

Score bugs, also known as score tickers, are small graphic overlays that display real-time information related to the program or event being broadcast on television. They are most commonly used in live sports broadcasts to show the current score, the names of the teams playing, the time remaining in the game, and other important statistics.

A TV showing a tv score bug

Why is it called a Score Bug?

The origin of the term is not entirely clear. It is possible that the name "bug" comes from the fact that these small graphic overlays are often placed in the corner of the screen, similar to how a bug might be found in the corner of a window.

It is also possible that the term "score bug" is simply a colloquialism that has been adopted by the industry, and there is no specific origin for the name. 🤷‍♀️

Enhancing the Viewer Experience

Score bugs are an essential part of the live sports viewing experience, as they allow viewers to stay up-to-date on the latest scores and statistics even if they can't watch the entire game.

The first time a score bug was used in a live sports broadcast was in 1992 during an English Premier League match. Its inventor was the Sky Sports head, David Hill, who was dissatisfied over having to wait to see what the score was after tuning into a match in-progress. Hill's boss repeatedly demanded that the graphic be removed, describing it as the " stupidest thing he had ever seen". Hill defied the boss's demands and kept the graphic in place. Since then, score bugs have become an essential part of live sports broadcasts, and are now used in almost every major sporting event.

"The stupidest thing I've ever seen" - Boss of the inventor of the score bug

Score bugs can also be used in other types of programming, such as news or financial programs, to display stock prices or other relevant data. They can also be used in social media platforms, to engage with the audience and provide real-time updates.

Creating your own Score Bug

There are many different solutions available for creating a score bug, including both hardware and software options.

We would recommend using a software solution for 2 reasons:

  1. It's cheaper!
  2. It is much more flexible and customizable than a hardware solution.

Nonetheless, the score bugs used by professional broadcasters are often created using hardware solutions.

We would also recommend using an online scoreboard software which runs in the browser, as opposed to an installable software package. The advantages are:

  • Installable software is usually specific to one platform, such as Windows. Web-based software will run anywhere, including tablets and smartphones
  • If an installed software gets an update or a bug-fix, you need to reinstall it and sometimes even pay for the update. With web-based software you always have the latest and greatest version the moment you load it into your browser.
  • Web-based software will instantly work on your mobile phone without any kind of app-install being required.
  • Installable software keeps its settings on your hard-disk, which means they are not available on other devices. If you get a new device it's a pain to migrate. Web-based software stores its data and settings in the cloud, which is more convenient and safer.

Here's an example of one of KeepTheScore.com's score bugs being used in a live broadcast:

A TV showing a tv score bug

The admin panel for the score bug is shown below. It does not require any software to be installed and simply runs in your browser.

A TV showing a tv score bug

If you want to create a your own score bug on KeepTheScore.com, read on below.

How to create a scoreboard and associated score bug

Here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Go to this page to create a sports scoreboard.
  2. Click on "Start here", then follow the instructions.
  3. Congrats, you've now created a new scoreboard and are on the "control panel". You have the option to carry out some customizations, such as choosing team names and choosing custom colors.
  4. Click on the orange "PUBLISH or SHOW SCOREBOARD" button.
  5. Click on "Add the scoreboard to your streaming software".
  6. You will then be presented with a URL that you can copy and paste into your streaming software. This URL will be used to display the scoreboard in your live broadcast.
  7. You're done 🍹

If you want detailed instructions for the OBS software take a look at this article: How to add a scoreboard to your live broadcast with OBS. Alternatively you can use vMix.

How much does the scoreboard cost?

The basic scoreboard is free, and you can start using it right away.

Some extra features, such as setting team logos, cost money. You can read more about that on our pricing page.

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