Morph 1.0

Innovative Viewer Experiences Leveraging Tracking Data in the NBA: Utilizing Data in Sports part 5

Genki Daido
Genki Daido
Sales Developer

NBA's Global Popularity

The NBA is a popular sport not only in its home country, the United States, but also around the world. According to a 2023 survey, 23% of American adults who use the internet watch the NBA, and 79% of all basketball fans watch NBA games. In China, however, 52% of internet-using adults watch NBA games, which corresponds to 90% of all basketball fans in that country.

The NBA uses tracking data to offer innovative viewing experiences to these audiences, enhancing fan engagement.

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Cited from Global NBA basketball viewers, 2024

The Advantage of Basketball in Tracking Data Collection

The ease of collecting tracking data in basketball compared to soccer and baseball is deeply connected to the characteristics and environmental conditions of the sport.

Smaller Play Area

Basketball courts are relatively small, measuring only 15 by 28 meters. This compact space allows for easier installation of cameras and sensors, enabling efficient tracking. In contrast, soccer and baseball fields are vast, requiring numerous cameras and high-resolution sensors to cover the entire field.

Continuous Action

Basketball features continuous action throughout the game, making it easier to track player and ball movements. In contrast, baseball has long waiting periods between plays, and soccer has more variable play patterns, making continuous data collection more challenging.

Indoor Sport

Basketball is primarily played indoors, making it less susceptible to lighting and weather fluctuations. Tracking in consistent environmental conditions enhances data accuracy by quite a large margin.

Given these advantages, the NBA can obtain extensive, diverse, and accurate data. Leveraging this wealth of data, the NBA can implement various initiatives to enhance fan engagement.

Innovative Viewing Experiences

Data Visualization in Highlight Videos

Second Spectrum, established in 2013, provides tracking, analysis, and data visualization services as a leading integrated sports AI provider. Since its inception, Second Spectrum has continually pursued technological innovation and new possibilities in sports data, growing to become the official analytics provider for the NBA.

Second Spectrum’s services are revolutionary for both NBA teams and their fans. The company tracks player movements on the court in real-time and conducts detailed analysis based on this data, providing coaches and players with deep insights to improve game strategies and performance.

For fans, Second Spectrum offers highlight videos and interactive visual content based on tracking data. For example, it recreates crucial moments of games using data visualization technology, allowing viewers to see player movements and ball trajectories in detail, gaining a deeper understanding of game tactics and player performance.

Data Visualization in Live Broadcasts

In 2021, Second Spectrum was acquired by Genius Sports, a sports media platform. This acquisition combined Genius Sports' streaming capabilities with Second Spectrum's tracking, analysis, and data visualization solutions, accelerating the integration of sports and media.

As part of this initiative, the Portland Trail Blazers use Genius Sports' Second Spectrum technology for data visualization in live broadcasts. This technology provides viewers with real-time detailed statistics such as players' shooting probabilities, touch counts per game, and defensive impacts. These data points are displayed as graphics overlaid on the court during each play, enhancing the viewing experience.

Kevin Kinghorn, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer of the Portland Trail Blazers, emphasized the improvement in viewing experience, stating, "Partnering with Genius Sports to expand local broadcasts into the NextGen field has been a great success."

Cited from Genius Sports transforms Trail Blazer broadcasts with Second Spectrum player tracking technology

Sony's Hawk-Eye and the NBA

In 2023, the NBA announced a partnership with Sony's Hawk-Eye, which was also featured in the second installment of our sports series, to introduce next-generation tracking technology. This new technology utilizes Hawk-Eye’s 3D optical tracking technology to provide real-time 3D data of games, enhancing the accuracy of referees' decisions and the speed of the game.

This partnership has the potential to significantly improve fan engagement. Hawk-Eye’s pose data capture technology can track and visually represent the movements of players and the ball in real-time in 3D. This allows fans to understand and visually enjoy the movements during the game in greater detail.

Furthermore, this technology creates collaboration opportunities between the NBA and Sony’s sports business division, providing new approaches in virtual game recreations, dynamic visualizations, unique content development, and gamification.

Cited from NBA and Sony’s Hawk-Eye Innovations launch strategic partnership powering next generation tracking technology

Why Morph Focuses on Utilizing Data in Sports

Morph is collaborating with the football club SHIBUYA CITY FC to promote the use of athlete data.

However, compared to plethora of devices that collect athlete data, software to effectively utilize that data is still developing, and there is room for improvement.

In this context, Morph can effectively fill the gap between data collection and utilization, providing a flexible tool for data utilization. Morph Beta 2