Mark Cuban Leads Pre-Seed Funding Round for Basketball Player Performance Analytics Startup Cerebro Sports

By Andrew Cohen

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has led a pre-seed funding round in Cerebro Sports, a basketball player performance analytics startup that has signed agreements with multiple college and NBA teams. Cerebro has created proprietary metrics to evaluate players in its global player database based on box score stats collected from games and recruiting showcases.

Cerebro’s dashboard includes player data from high school, college, NBA and overseas competitions. The product is aimed to be used for recruiting and scouting purposes and includes a feature where coaches can specify their search to show players based on the roles they need to fill, such as players who fit the 3-and-D archetype of being a strong three-point shooter and defender.

Top high school basketball programs to have partnered with Cerebro include the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame’s HoopHall series, The Grind Session, Les Schwab Invitational and the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association. Cerebro offers a free version of its analytics platform as well as tiers with monthly subscriptions priced at $10, $50, $100, and $500.

“I’m excited to see how far Cerebro can take their analytics to help NBA teams improve our ability to forecast how good players can be,” Cuban said in a statement.

Players at FIFA World Cup Will Be Able to Access Individual Performance Data, Insights Through New App

By Joe Lemire

FIFA has developed a player app that will make tracking data available to every participant in the 2022 World Cup taking place in Qatar later this year.

Produced with input from FIFPRO, the global association of pro player unions, and in accordance with its new Charter of Player Data Rights, the FIFA Player App will collect objective player tracking data for an optical system installed at every stadium for metrics on speed, distance, accelerations and positional heat maps.

Additionally, the app will feature enhanced event data—in which FIFA performance analysts provide granular details on passing, pressure and the like—and intelligence metrics that use machine learning algorithms to compute advanced insights into play.

All of the data distributed to players will be synced to video for review from multiple camera angles and available to each athlete soon after each match. Players will also receive action photographs in the app from every competition that they can share on social media.

Prior to the 2018 World Cup, FIFA made optical tracking data available for real-time access by analysts and coaches on every team during the match. That system was provided by ChyronHego TRACAB, but it is unclear who will be the vendor in 2022. Hawk-Eye was selected to assist with the new semi-automated offsides technology, although that system will run independently.

Pixellot’s Analytics Platform, VidSwap, Available to National Federation of High Schools

By Joe Lemire

The National Federation of High Schools has expanded its relationship with Pixellot to make the tech company’s analytics platform, VidSwap, available to NFHS member schools. 

Pixellot, which makes AI-powered cameras, has a long-standing partnership with the NFHS, having teamed up with PlayOn! Sports in 2017 to offer discounted devices to schools who could stream their competitions on the NFHS Network. During the pandemic, the High School Support Program reached a deal to make the program free for member schools outside of a one-time installation cost. Nearly 9,000 high schools now have Pixellot cameras in place, and all

VidSwap is the analytics platform that Pixellot acquired in December 2019, at which time it became available to the NFHS Network and now has been expanded to coaches at each school. VidSwap automates the collection of data such as shot charts and player heat maps, as well as other team and player stats. The reports and video clips are available within a few hours of a match’s completion. The stated goal of the program is making analysis a more efficient process for coaches as well as boost the profile and recruiting potential of high school athletes.

Pixellot, which streams 150,000 hours of live video monthly, has also partnered with college conferences and pro sports leagues and clubs such as FC Barcelona. The Pixellot Air camera that is now available to NFHS constituents was developed in collaboration with the Barça Innovation Hub.

SB22 Introduces Virtual Reality Betting Platform Where Fans Can Place Real-Time Wagers at Games

By Tom Friend

Tech firm SB22 is introducing a virtual reality betting platform entitled VR22 that will drop fans into the best seats at a sporting event through VR and allow them to place real-time wagers, partake in interactive games and win merch or NFTs.

Through machine learning, artificial intelligence and hand-tracking tools, VR22 will mix 360-degree game streaming with betting functionality. The product is designed to be utilized by sports gaming operators, leagues and pro sports teams, all utilizing SB22’s proprietary transaction platform.

SB22 claims to be the first mobile-centric, iOS-native, fully automated, cloud capable and VR/AR ready tech platform in sports betting. Its iGaming and free-to-play platform, catered to meet Gaming Labs International’s standards, was built specifically for the U.S. market.

Back in December of 2020, the UK-based gambling firm Entain partnered with Verizon Media to similarly combine virtual reality with sports betting. In that case, users were virtually immersed inside sports venues with the option of placing bets on Entain platforms like BetMGM.

Pittsburgh Steelers to Use MatSing’s Lens Antenna Technology Inside Acrisure Stadium to Support Fans’ Mobile Devices

By Tom Friend

MatSing’s multi-beam lens antennas have been installed at Pittsburgh’s Acrisure Stadium to improve the mobile game-day experience for fans using the venue’s Verizon 5G Ultra-Wideband and Nationwide services while attending Steelers games and other events.

As part of the collaboration, a total of 60 lens antennas will cover the upper levels of the stadium, allowing fans to seamlessly “post to socials, check their fantasy rosters or share highlights,” according to MatSing. Every antenna can disseminate up to 48 independent sectors, providing the best possible signal across multiple bands with as few antennas as possible.

The company has previously integrated its lens antennas at venues for the Dallas Cowboys, Las Vegas Raiders, as well as at venues of the past five Super Bowls. In Florida, the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning deployed them during the Stanley Cup Finals at Amalie Arena. And as recently as this past May, MatSing installed those same antennas at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium to improve fans’ phone connectivity for the first Miami Grand Prix Formula One race.

The company’s lightweight lens antennas are superior to traditional antennas, with capability of powering the stadium’s broadband/C-band coverage, emitting and maintaining multiple beams and carrying it out with limited radio-frequency interference. MatSing uses a proprietary artificial dielectric polymer that mirrors the human eye’s capacity to refract light and applies it to network transmissions.

Chicago Bulls Become First Pro Sports Team to Offer NFT Collection on Coinbase

By Andrew Cohen

The Chicago Bulls have become the first pro sports team to offer an NFT collection on Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange that became the NBA’s exclusive crypto sponsor last year. Fans can bid to buy tokens from the Bulls’ NFT logo collection for the next 24 hours through an auction held on the Coinbase NFT marketplace.

The collection consists of 23 different 1-of-1 NFTs — a nod to Bulls icon Michael Jordan — all uniquely designed by 23 web3 artists that the Bulls partnered with. Each artist was asked to create their own depiction of the Bulls’ logo, which the team hasn’t changed since its inception in 1966. The NFT collection is called “Aurochs” after the extinct ancient cattle species that’s considered an ancestor to the modern bull. Each NFT has a start price of .2 ETH (about $255 USD). 10% of proceeds from each NFT will go to After School Matters, a free STEM, leadership, sports and arts program for high school students in Chicago.

Coinbase is reportedly paying the NBA almost $200 million over four years, according to Bloomberg. The company also has a multi-year deal as the cryptocurrency platform and NFT partner of the Bulls. That deal will see Coinbase provide in-arena crypto education and giveaways to “educate and inspire fans to participate in Web3 and the cryptoeconomy” according to the Bulls.

Coinbase is the largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume in the U.S., but has not produced sports teams NFTs up until working with the Bulls. That approach contrasts with Coinbase’s competitors such as and FTX, whose sports sponsorships have often included NFT rights for teams and leagues. The 76ers are an NBA team to offer NFTs with while the Warriors and Wizards have NFTs with FTX.

San Francisco 49ers Partner With Tempus Ex Machina, Tech Will Help Publish Highlights Across Digital and Social Media Channels

By Joe Lemire

The San Francisco 49ers are the first NFL franchise to partner with Tempus Ex Machina and have begun incorporating the tech startup’s low-latency data and video for fan engagement. 

Tempus Ex is a league-wide partner of the NFL, and its FusionFeed technology is installed at every stadium. This team deal enables the 49ers to quickly manage and publish highlights across digital and social media channels.

The Pac-12 partnered with Tempus Ex last month to enable its athletes to monetize their highlights on social media via NIL opportunities. Co-founded by president and chief product officer Erik Schwartz, who previously was head of technology at the Alliance of American Football, as well as COO Annie Gerhart the company raised a Series B round a year ago that was led by Silver Lake and Endeavor. It has also received investments from the ADvantage Fund and others.

Miami Marlins Find Improved Parking Payment Compliance at loanDepot After Using Genetec for Mobile Payment

By Andrew Cohen

The Miami Marlins have improved parking payment compliance among fans at loanDepot Park this season to 97% while working with security technology company Genetec. The AutoVu Pay-by-Plate Sync plugin from Genetec has been integrated into the PayByPhone mobile payment app at loanDepot Park to give fans the option to pay for parking before, during and after games.

Fans can also pay for parking via on-site stations, and Genetic’s software sends license plate info to cameras at entrance and exit points to validate payment compliance. The Marlins also have staff drive around the stadium’s parking lot in cars equipped with Genetec’s AutoVu license plate recognition readers to scan license plates. Guests identified as having not paid are issued a written promissory note saying they’ll receive a parking citation in 24 hours if they don’t pay.

Montreal-based Genetec estimates its parking services saved the Marlins about $300,000 this year in operating costs. Genetec’s parking management software also lets managers track occupancy and direct drivers to open spaces. The system can also cross-reference license plates with those belonging to staff and identify fans on VIP lists or season ticket members to send exclusive parking promotions.

Attendance for Marlins home games has been up 20% this season compared to 2021, but the club’s average of slightly more than 11,000 fans per game still ranks 29th out of 30 MLB teams.

Bleacher Report Partners With Vivid Seats to Sell Tickets Through Bleacher Report’s App, Website, Social Platforms

By Tom Friend

Bleacher Report has partnered with online fan marketplace Vivid Seats as part of an initiative to sell tickets across B/R’s digital platforms.

On B/R’s app, website and social channels, fans can purchase game and event tickets through Vivid Seats’ marketplace. Bleacher Report has made a concerted effort to appeal to its young audience through direct messaging on its mobile app and live B/R shows during past Super Bowls.

ESPN’s digital platforms, a direct competitor to Bleacher Report, have had a similar partnership with Chicago-based Vivid Seats since 2017. But in this latest deal with B/R, Vivid Seats will also launch a media campaign across B/R’s platforms that is intended to increase its user base during the new NFL season and upcoming NBA and NHL seasons. The Los Angeles Clippers, for instance, have already partnered with Vivid Seats to facilitate secondary market shares.

Sports Marketing and Ad-Tech Firm TGI Sports Acquires Virtual Advertising Company Brand Brigade

By Andrew Cohen

Sports marketing and ad-tech firm TGI Sports has acquired virtual advertising company Brand Brigade, which overlays ads into broadcasts for more than 4,000 sporting events per year including NBA, NHL, and MLB games. The acquisition will help Brand Brigade expand its services globally, with Brand Brigade expected to launch an ad product for streaming later this year.

Bruin Sports Capital acquired a 50% stake in TGI Sport for a reported $100 million in March 2021. The Brand Brigade acquisition comes after TGI announced last week that it had bought London-based Interregional Sports Group (ISG), which manages virtual ad rights in broadcasts for Serie A, La Liga, and Formula 1. Under TGI, Brand Brigade and ISG will operate independently of each other but collaborate on a broader expansion strategy to work with new clients across the globe.

Brand Brigade was founded in 2007 by Sam Chenillo and Oren Steinfeld. Both Chenillo and Steinfeld will now join TGI Sports and their virtual ad platform will be offered as Brand Brigade powered by TGI Sport moving forward. Earlier this year, the UFC signed a pilot deal with competing virtual ad provider 4D Sight to overlay sponsor branding on UFC Fight Pass.

TenCate Grass Launches Synthetic Turf Recycling Program for Worn-Out Sports Fields

By Joe Lemire

TenCate Grass, a leading purveyor of artificial turf for sports playing surfaces, is pioneering a recycling program for worn-out fields with help from ExxonMobil and Cyclyx International, a feedstock processor. 

The new program, called TenCate Turf Recycling Solutions, will begin with 50 depreciated artificial grass surfaces from high schools and colleges, primarily in California. They are being sent to a facility in SoCal for shredding before shipment to a Cyclyx location in Texas for pre-processing. The last step is ExxonMobil’s advanced recycling center in Baytown where it will use the company’s proprietary Exxtend technology to break the turf into raw materials.

TenCate is headquartered in the Netherlands where it already engages in turf recycling, turning old fields into what it calls Ecocept, elastic pellets that serve as an underlayer for fields. This new initiative with ExxonMobil and Cyclyx will expand recycling efforts globally.