Florida Gulf Coast University Becomes Latest Men’s College Program to Deploy Noah Basketball

By Tom Friend

Noah Basketball’s sensor-powered analytics platform is being adopted by another NCAA men’s basketball team, Florida Gulf Coast University. 

FGCU set a school record for converted three-pointers last season with 347 and attempted the sixth-most three-pointers in the nation last season. Noah Basketball’s cloud-based shooting system—marketed as “Noahlytics’’—will provide players with individualized dashboards that can be accessed in real time during practice to pinpoint the metrics behind makes and misses. 

Virginia and Alabama are among the other men’s programs that have deployed the platform, which relies on sensors mounted on the backboard—along with cameras, artificial intelligence and facial recognition—to correct inconsistent shooting habits via audio feedback. 

The system can quantify the position of a basketball at 30 times per second, as well as the arc of a shot and its location within the rim when it goes through. The Noahlytics are the subsequent data points shared with the player, which are filtered by shot length, player name, court placement, makes and misses. Through machine learning, a player receives a diagnostic grade with data-driven suggestions on how to improve their shot-making. 

According to Noah Basketball, its expertise is based on the study of over 400 million shots taken by players of every level. The product has been installed in the practice facilities of 24 NBA teams, including the reigning champion Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers. The Big3 also recently installed the sensors during games this season where—alongside Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensors—it is providing players with metrics on shot depth and rotational spin.  

Uplift Labs Raises Additional $2.5 million in Seed Round Joined by Seth Curry, David DeCastro

By Joe Lemire

Uplift Labs, a smartphone-based motion capture company, has announced an additional $2.5 million in seed funding on top of the $3 million it had raised in January. This latest round included Brooklyn Nets guard Seth Curry, his wife Callie Rivers Curry, former Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro guard David DeCastro and several investment firms. 

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based Uplift has developed technology that uses two iPhones—and, soon, just one—to generate 3D motion capture of both elite athletes and general health and wellness patients. The NBA included it in the league’s inaugural cohort of startups for its Launchpad program. A half-dozen MLB clubs and Golftec are also users. It worked with LAFC on a project in conjunction with Verizon 5G Labs, the Global Sports Venture Studio and UEFA.

Co-founded and led by CEO Sukemasa Kabayama, the former president of Tesla Japan, Uplift has now received $8.5 million in total investment. Previous individual investors included All-Star basketball players Marc Gasol and Renee Montgomery.

Chargers QB Justin Herbert Named Brand Ambassador for aboutGOLF Simulators

By Tom Friend

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, after trialing an aboutGOLF simulator in his home, has become a brand ambassador for the company. 

Specializing in virtual golf competitions, aboutGOLF produces an accurate simulator based on what it calls proprietary camera technology. Its flatscreen simulators, priced starting at $46,500, can be upgraded to 4K, while the curved simulators start at $69,500. The curved product can be customized to fit in different sized rooms and is equipped with a high-performance 23-inch touchscreen. 

The aboutGOLF simulator recreates as many as 50 golf venues, including the Old Course at St. Andrews and Pebble Beach. Herbert, named to the Pro Bowl last season, is an avid golfer who last month hosted the Justin Herbert Invitational tournament in Eugene, Oregon that raised money for the non-profit organization Kidsports. 

Yankee Stadium Upgrades 5G Connectivity for T-Mobile Customers

By Andrew Cohen

The New York Yankees have expanded their partnership with T-Mobile to add 5G connectivity for fans on their phones at Yankee Stadium. T-Mobile customers with 5G-enabled devices can now connect to the company’s Ultra Capacity 5G network while seated in select sections at Yankee Stadium. 

Fans at Yankee Stadium can use the network to share high-resolution photos and livestream video on their phones at speeds up to 10 times faster than 4G, according to T-Mobile. Former Yankees greats Hideki Matsui and Bernie Williams are featured in a flyover drone video of Yankee Stadium that was post-produced on T-Mobile’s 5G network and uploaded to the team’s YouTube. 

T-Mobile expects to add more 5G enhancements to Yankee Stadium for the 2023 season. T-Mobile is a long-time sponsor of the Yankees and they worked together last year to provide free internet-connected devices to 11,000 students in the Bronx. 

UFC Shows Foresight with 4D Sight, Will Add Virtual Ads in Octagon

By Andrew Cohen

UFC will begin a pilot program with virtual advertising company 4D Sight to digitally overlay sponsor branding into the Octagon during streams on UFC Fight Pass. UFC is the first major sports league to partner with 4D Sight, which has previously added on-screen virtual ads for esports competitions organized by Activision-Blizzard, Krafton, Riot Games, Tencent and Ubisoft. 

4D Sight’s cloud-based, computer vision software will debut Saturday on UFC Fight Pass’s Spanish broadcast of UFC 278: Usman Vs. Edwards 2. The fight’s stream will feature a virtual logo in the Octagon from Stake.com, a cryptocurrency-based sports betting company that serves as the UFC’s betting partner in Latin America and Asia.   

“UFC tried and discovered we couldn’t use any of the traditional, mature technologies for digitally placing our partners’ logos in our broadcasts,” Alon Cohen, UFC’s SVP of research and development, said in a statement. “Those technologies are upstream and use sensors attached to cameras. We needed a downstream solution—one that could place logos on the Octagon canvas using a broadcast-level solution. 4D Sight is the only platform that could provide that technology for us, and we’re proud to work with them to produce this first-of-its-kind deployment in IRL sport.” 

Dapper Labs Launches NFL All Day NFTs, Football’s Version of NBA Top Shot

By Joe Lemire

The NFL, NFLPA and Dapper Labs are fully launching NFL All Day, an NFT platform for digital video highlights in the style of Dapper’s market-defining NBA Top Shot product. Kansas City Chiefs superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes will serve as the face of the franchise for the 2022 season.

The NFL All Day marketplace, which had a soft launch last fall, will curate officially licensed video highlight NFTs called “Moments” for fans to buy, collect and trade. All users can receive one free 2022 NFL Season NFT with Mahomes’ photo by signing up for the platform. The first Series 1 pack—known as Headliners—will drop on Friday, Aug. 19 at 2 pm ET and feature Tom Brady, Derrick Henry, Jonathan Taylor and more.

Dapper Labs, which won the 2022 Sports Business Award for Best in Sports Technology, initially partnered with the NFL and NFLPA in September of 2021. The blockchain-based company made its name working with the NBA and NBPA, but also has struck a deal with the UFC. The NFL’s other foray into NFTs has come via its commemorative ticket program, in which it partnered with Ticketmaster to issue a free digital keepsake for attendees of select games.

Bally Sports+ to Be Available to All Markets for 2022-23 NBA, NHL Seasons

By Joe Lemire

Bally Sports+, the subscription streaming service that launched regionally in June, will become available to all its markets beginning on September 26 in time for the 2022-23 NBA and NHL seasons.

Those who live in any of the 19 markets served by Bally Sports now can choose to subscribe to the direct-to-consumer service instead of a cable or streaming bundle to watch the local RSN. Bally Sports+ began distribution in five regions over the summer—Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, Tampa and Wisconsin—at a price point of $19.99 per month or $189.99 per year.  

In those five launch markets, Bally Sports+ included the local rights to the appropriate hometown MLB club, but that will not be the case initially for the other markets. Other regional programming, such as college and high school sports, will be included. 

Sinclair Broadcast Group, which introduced virtual control rooms last summer, acquired what used to be the collection of Fox Sports RSNs in 2019 and then rebranded them as Bally Sports in partnership with the casino and sportsbook operator. A subsidiary of Sinclair, Diamond Sports Group, is the operator of the Bally Sports+. 

“Today is a significant step for the RSN industry as we offer local sports fans across our Bally Sports footprint a new way to watch their hometown teams,” Sinclair Broadcast Group CEO Chris Ripley said in a statement. “We view Bally Sports+ as a great complement to the incredible value our distribution partners provide our linear networks; and with both models, we are uniquely positioned to help our team partners grow their fan bases for years to come.” 

CHEQ, PepsiCo to Co-brand Concessions Starting With loanDepot Park

By Andrew Cohen

Mobile ordering startup CHEQ has reached a deal with PepsiCo to launch co-branded concession stands at sports stadiums that use CHEQ’s point-of-sale system and offer its ordering app to in-venue fans. The partnership will initially target stadiums, restaurants, retail locations and universities in South Florida, starting with the Miami Marlins’ loanDepot Park, before eventually expanding to venues and pro sports stadiums across the U.S. 

In July 2021, the Marlins became the first pro sports team to partner with CHEQ to add its mobile ordering app to its ballpark, which lets fans order from concession stands and have the food delivered to their seats. CHEQ’s other sports deals are with the Washington Commander’s FedEx Field and Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium, which will have five co-branded CHEQ/PepsiCo concession stands this upcoming NFL season that will sell PepsiCo’s beverage products such as Pepsi, Sierra Mist, and Mountain DEW. 

CHEQ’s mobile app also offers a social remote gifting feature at various restaurants, as well as loanDepot Park and Hard Rock Stadium, that lets users (from anywhere in the world) pay for food and drink orders sent in real-time to their friends currently seated at those restaurants or stadiums. “Eventually, users will have the ability to send/receive Pepsi products with each other in real time, from anywhere in the world,” CHEQ’s CRO and co-founder Jake Stone said in an email to SportTechie 

Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell to Play in Caffeine.tv Livestream of Miami Pro League

By Tom Friend

Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell—pursued in recent trade talks with the New York Knicks, Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets, among others—is expected to play in tonight’s Caffeine.tv livestream of the Miami Pro League. 

Mitchell posted his intentions on his Instagram account and is scheduled to play alongside fellow NBA players Bam Adebayo and Colin Sexton in a Miami Pro League semifinal. Coverage is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. on Caffeine.tv via the Playmaker channel. 

Caffeine.tv livestreamed last week’s quarterfinal games which included NBA players Terry Rozier, Josh Richardson, Derrick Jones Jr., Marvin Bagley and Austin Rivers. The burgeoning digital platform previously streamed games and specialty shows surrounding the Drew League in Los Angeles that featured LeBron James and were also streamed on the NBA app and NBA.com. 

New 5-Year Deal for LaLiga, Stats Perform To Boost Fan and Betting Experiences

By Tom Friend

LaLiga and Stats Perform have agreed on a five-year deal that, through livestreaming and AI-powered analytics, is intended to enhance the Spanish league’s fan and betting experiences. 

Stats Perform already had live betting and streaming rights for LaLiga, but the new agreement also allows the sports data company to exclusively handle analytics and stats from more than 800 LaLiga matches per year and disseminate them to broadcasters, sportsbooks, sponsors, publishers, fantasy providers and the league’s digital outlets.  

Through Stats Perform’s Opta data platform, LaLiga’s streamed matches will feature AI-powered advanced analytics and predictions for superior fan and betting engagement, similar to what Apple TV has done with its Major League Baseball streams this season. LaLiga has recently implemented surveys to see what most attracts fans 34 and under. 

LaLiga and Stats Perform expect Opta’s PressBox Graphics platform to increase the average fan’s interaction with matches from 90 minutes to an entire game. Opta is the official data provider for 80 percent of the high-profile leagues in Europe.  

LaLiga has long had an interest in technology, including a partnership announced in 2021 with Microsoft that also was aimed at stat graphics for broadcasts — such as the distance a ball travels in the air on a cross-field pass. Stats Perform, meanwhile, had previously partnered with TruMedia to perfect their ProVision platform, which combines video, tracking data and analytics.   

Round 2 of Layoffs for Crypto.com, “Much Bigger” Than Last Time

By Andrew Cohen

Crypto.com has undergone a second round of layoffs amid ongoing bear market conditions, according to cryptocurrency news site Decrypt. Multiple employees at Crypto.com told Decrypt that this second round of layoffs was “much bigger” than the first round the company announced in June when it laid off 260 employees, 5% of its workforce at the time.  

Employees were reportedly informed about the additional round of job cuts last week but there has been no public announcement about the layoffs from Crypto.com, which won the 2022 Sports Breakthrough of the Year Award in May at SBJ’s Sports Business Awards. The company’s sports sponsorship splashes include its $700 million naming rights deal for Crypto.com Arena (formerly the Staples Center), as well as deals with the FIFA World Cup, UFC, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Kings, Angel City FC, F1’s Miami Grand Prix, and NBA stars LeBron James and Joel Embiid.  

“Leadership expressed they had no intention of going public. Top management is unlikely to do an announcement as, after the June layoffs, they claimed that everyone’s job was safe, and that no more layoffs will happen,” a source who works at Crypto.com told Decrypt. “The business is cutting down to bare minimum to survive the likely long bear market—internal initiatives are about trying to save every penny.” 

Decrypt reports that the latest round of cuts impacted people working on Crypto.com products such as its cryptocurrency trading exchange, mobile app, and digital wallet; whereas the June cuts targeted employees in customer service and growth roles. Before both rounds of layoffs, about 45% of Crypto.com’s staff was hired between 2021 and 2022. 

“Our leadership team has been planning for this bear market for a long time,” Crypto.com’s North America sponsorship manager Preston Peters told SportTechie in May. “This is the moment in time where we get to build and focus on our product and really continue to grow our community. We’re excited by the challenge. And we’re not going anywhere.” 

In other news, Crypto.com received regulatory approval this week to launch in the UK and Canada, where it will be the first crypto firm to operate under rules from the Ontario Securities Commission. Rival crypto exchange Coinbase laid off 18% of its workforce in June while NFT marketplace OpenSea announced layoffs to 20% of its staff last month. One self-described current employee at Crypto.com wrote a post July 10 on employer rating site Glassdoor that pegs more than 1,000 employees to have been laid off at Crypto.com. 

“The company is hiding the fact that they’ve laid off more than 1,000 employees even though they officially announced laying off 260,” reads the post. They’ve removed the company directory so we can’t see the numbers go down. Management has been silent about the issue and everyone is terrified that their job will be next. It’s not good for morale to see that 1/3 of the invitation list on your next meeting is disabled accounts.”