Broadcasters See the Light on Analytics

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On the heels of the annual National Association of Broadcasters Conference in Las Vegas, this seems to be the perfect time to take note of what STATS believes to be a very positive trend in the industry: broadcasters are beginning to shift away from formulaic production and commentary, and starting to take advantage of big data. In today’s Moneyball era, savvier fans have made advanced analytics a must-have item in nearly every sport. And broadcasters are taking notice: without question, we’re seeing a growing interest in analytical data from our clients.

Stats, sabermetrics and graphics … they belong together! There is a lot of great data available these days that can help enhance a broadcast. The key is to identify content that is both illuminating and understandable to a viewing audience that is becoming much more sophisticated.

A good example of that is the “Just A Bit Outside” broadcast that FOX Sports 1 ran during last year’s MLB postseason, and which featured analysts commenting on the game from a sabermetric perspective. That alternative broadcast was very well-received, proving that there is a growing audience for an analytics perspective (and one which appeals to an audience that skews younger – something that broadcasters love). We think that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

STATS is known for supplying the unique in-game specialty data that broadcasters want to get their hands on as soon as possible. From our proprietary X-Info data – think sacks allowed and burned defenders in football and pitch type, velocity and location in baseball – to real-time updates for in-game graphics, we’ve led the way.

Context is key! The next evolution will explain to viewers why these newer metrics are useful in the evaluation of players and teams, while providing deeper insights into game strategies. Later this season, we’re going to provide pitch probability data for graphics/score bugs as well as career batter vs. pitcher pitch type tendencies – by count. This is neat stuff that gets us excited and, more importantly, will get the viewing audience excited as well.

On the Other Side of the Ball

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Six months ago, I transferred from the “offensive side of the ball,” aka the glitz and glamour of NFL sponsorship marketing at a Fortune 500 company, to the scrappier, fewer-free-lunches side at STATS. While I do miss the free lunches, amazing client entertainment events and the freedom of never being turned down for a meeting request, at STATS I have the amazing opportunity to help the world of branding better engage with customers, fans and prospects through sports.

There are three factors that make my job particularly amazing. First, I get to work with a range of brands in a range of sports. Don’t get me wrong, I could work in football for the rest of my life and be happy, but now I also get to interact with sports like basketball, hockey and swimming. It’s inspiring to learn from others! It’s also extremely powerful to have this kind of perspective across brands, as many brands face the same problems. As a result, we often help connect the dots by sharing knowledge and best practices from the outside world.

Second, I get to nerd out about fans. Not only do I have a 350-person focus group of just STATS employees, but I also get to talk to individuals who are defining the industry for fans. Diving deep into the minds of fans—their behaviors, feelings and needs during a game, a season or year-round—and trying to uncover what’s possible for the next great sports experience is both exciting and awe-inspiring.

Finally, my mantra has shifted from WWLA (what will legal approve) to HWCWG (how weird can we get). I enjoy challenging my team’s and my own creativity and pushing the boundaries on what’s possible, then allowing our brand partners to reel us back in. It’s much more fun to be the child than the parent!

If you’re interested in learning more about my transition, STATS, or sports in the brand world, contact STATS with a short message and I’d be happy to connect.

How STATS is Changing NBA TV

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Throughout the 2014–15 NBA season, STATS has worked with NBA TV to provide SportVU data for its studio broadcast shows. SportVU data gives basketball fans unprecedented insight into the game they love. According to an NBA TV producer, “SportVU allows us to educate our viewers on their favorite teams and players using advanced stats, something we rarely did in the past.” With outstanding partners like NBA TV, SportVU data can add value to broadcasts and enrich the viewing experience.

One area in which SportVU data has helped broadcasters is in powering on-air graphics within NBA TV studio shows. The result is new and engaging content for NBA TV viewers. Fans not only learn about their favorite players and teams, but they also get a glimpse into the cutting-edge analytics that NBA teams use every day.

On-air analysts have also been able to leverage the power of SportVU to support and expand their talking points. Analysts frequently draw insights from an unparalleled dataset to help confirm their own ideas, but the use of SportVU goes well beyond strengthening existing ideas. Oftentimes, SportVU illustrates story lines that drive entire segments of a studio show. These are segments and content that previously may have gone undiscovered due to a lack of supporting material.

Even with all of this early success with NBA TV, STATS has only scratched the surface in terms of what is possible. STATS is actively working to develop new ways for broadcasters and fans to engage with SportVU data. Expect to see new applications for second-screen engagement as well as some exciting ways for SportVU tracking data to overlay with game highlights. Not only do these new applications benefit the viewer, but they also open up a wide variety of branding opportunities for broadcasters to better engage with their partners. The possibilities are amazing, and, with the great help of NBA TV, you can expect spectacular results!

STATS SportVU® is the official player tracking technology of the NBA. SportVU creates a wealth of innovative statistics to engage teams and fans with unique basketball data and immersive content experiences. Contact STATS to find out what SportVU can do for your organization.

Excitement Building for 2015 Women’s World Cup

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STATS’ coverage of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Edmonton, Alberta, will begin June 6, 2015, just hours after the UEFA Champions League Final. Host team Canada will face off against China to kick off the action. This summer’s tournament promises to be the most competitive Women’s World Cup in history, and STATS will be covering it every step of the way, from the opening match in Edmonton to the July 5 final in Vancouver.

Defending champions Japan, who won their first world title in 2011 in a thrilling penalty shootout against the United States, will look to become just the second country to repeat as Women’s World Champions (a feat previously accomplished by Germany in 2003 and 2007). However, they will face strong opposition from perennial favorites Brazil, Germany and the United States, as well as hosts Canada and an up-and-coming French team. This will be the first year the Women’s World Cup includes 24 teams (it previously included just 16), making this a true global event. Eight nations, including the Netherlands, Cameroon and Thailand, will be making their Women’s World Cup debut.

This tournament may also be the last chance for a world title for one of the game’s all-time greats, Abby Wambach. The 34-year-old member of the U.S. Women’s National Team will be appearing in her fourth Women’s World Cup this summer, entering the tournament with over 175 international goals in her 14-year tenure. Wambach was also named FIFA World Player of the year in 2012—the only thing missing from her resume is a World Cup trophy, and this may very well be her last chance to win it.

STATS will provide full live coverage of all 52 games in this year’s Women’s World Cup, from real-time scoring, including location data and visualization, to editorial content, as well as historic result, scorer and shootout data for all past Women’s World Cups.