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NBA to follow the bouncing data

Given the current environment of sports stat overload, the National Basketball Association (NBA) wants to give its fans and others even more.

The NBA and STATS LLC are expanding their existing relationship to install STATS’ SportVU Player Tracking technology in every NBA arena and have them operational by the start of the upcoming 2013-14 season. Thus far more than a dozen teams, including the Toronto Raptors, have purchased the roughly $100,000 system with the others not far behind.

The multiyear agreement will make the NBA the first major U.S. professional sports league to quantify and analyze every movement of live game action throughout the entire season.

“We are a league driven by data, and our expanded partnership with STATS provides our teams and fans with access to uncover groundbreaking statistics,” said Steve Hellmuth, NBA executive vice president of Operations and Technology. “In this new era of statistical information, SportVU will be an invaluable resource for basketball executives and our passionate fans.”

STATS’ SportVU system uses small HD-quality cameras mounted throughout an arena and pointed at the floor. STATS’ proprietary software then takes over and, leveraging complex codes, can quickly identify the smallest of details — like when a pick-and-roll occurred, where it occurred, whether the pick actually hit a defender and the position of all 10 players on the floor as the play unfolded. Teams can also factor in the individual skill set of every NBA player in order to prepare.

The system will eventually be used by all 30 NBA teams (during games and also for practice sessions) to calibrate and measure the movements of all players and the ball on the court. It provides a continuous stream of statistics based around speed, distance, player separation and ball possession for detailed and targeted analysis of players and teams, according to the company.

The company said the tracking system’s portability allows quick setup at various locations throughout the venue and, with its integrated software and hardware combined with network and database solutions, provides constant data directly to a variety of portable and fixed consumer devices. And all aspects of the data collection process are completely non-intrusive to game action.

In basketball, the computer vision cameras capture video and data while complex algorithms extract X,Y, Z positioning data of all objects on the court, 25 times per second. There are six cameras in 4-6 locations in the catwalk. Three cameras per half court allows for true 3-D object tracking.

The NBA Game Time app, and NBA TV will use SportVU player tracking data, enhancing the league’s current statistical offerings and providing fans with the most comprehensive breakdown of every game.

“With SportVU, the new vernacular of the NBA will be speed profiles, offensive play types, defensive matchups and court coverage maps,” said STATS CEO Gary Walrath.

The NBA’s use of SportVU enhances a long-standing partnership between the NBA and STATS. STATS has been the league’s official data distribution partner since 2006, disseminating complete NBA, WNBA and NBA Development League statistical information to broadcast, print and online outlets around the world.

The SportVU system has been used in other outdoor sports as well. STATS’ has partnered with Sony to create the Data Augmented Video (DAV) analysis system for European football, which sends all types of data analysis to multiple screens simultaneously. Enhancing video footage with information graphics, sourced from STATS’ SportVU system, enables production teams and viewers to see matches from new perspectives, and in greater detail. Also, the Sony platform processes the data live, allowing the inclusion of data enhanced video clips within an instant replay.

During soccer match broadcasts (for which it has been successfully used on air) Sony technology captures (cameras) and displays (monitors) the imagery while STATS' SportVU player tracking software provides real-time data for all 22 players, 3 referees and the ball. SportVU’s performance data, highlighting speed profiles, accumulated distances, fitness graphs and coverage heat maps, can the be used to support sports media and scouting – all in real-time. These on-air live broadcast enhancements create new interactive advertising opportunities and generate new revenue streams.