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VERT Looks to Real-Time Data to Provide More Engaging Fan Experience

VERT sees data as a way for both coaches and fans to get more value out of a game.

Adam White

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VERT- Tech - Sports

When it first started, VERT’s mission was to be a “bragging product” — something that a teenage athlete could use to measure their vertical jump and then show off to their friends.

That iteration of the product didn’t last long after the company pivoted towards a product that could be used by both volleyball players and coaches. Not only could the players see how high they were jumping, but coaches could also monitor the number of jumps they were taking during a game and see how much more force was being exerted on a player.

Now, the company has leveraged its technical success at over 350 college programs to be able to offer a new kind of stat to fans who are either at the match or watching on TV. Instead of exit velocity like baseball, it’s the height of one’s vertical.

“Over the course of the last few NCAA Women’s Volleyball Final Fours, we have partnered with ESPN to showcase the vertical jump stats on their broadcast of the event,” said Patrick Lillis, data and marketing manager at VERT. “We have been able to see success and an increased fan interest in these kinds of stats.”

These next-gen stats have also transitioned well to experiential opportunities, an area that Lillis and the team at VERT see vast potential in as they head into 2019 and beyond.

“During the season, there are about 2-3 club volleyball tournaments a month from January until July. Alongside one of our partners, AcuSpike, we have put together a 30’ x 30’ activation space that allows girls to jump up, spike a ball, and get their vertical jump numbers in real time.”

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While having a presence at club volleyball tournaments is key for their target demo and their business, they have found themselves working closely with brands over the last year or so.

Working for the likes of Adidas, Red Bull, and WaWa, the company has found that while the data it is collecting for the teams and coaches is important, players and people who may not need the data every day are enjoying it as a type of experience that they can then share.

The product that was once supposed to be a bragging product is now finding success essentially doing just that. Not planned, the opportunity arose from VERT evolving over time.

Percolating into college athletics, VERT has worked alongside the Texas Tech marketing department to bring fans the chance to see how their vertical stacks up against the women’s basketball team.

“At Texas Tech, the department has set up an area where fans can not only see how high they jump, but also see if they can get anywhere close to the ladies on the team,” said Lillis. “We have their real verticals in there. It’s an easy and relevant way for them to activate and one that is memorable and easily shareable from a fans perspective.”

While its name may suggest the tool only measures someones vertical, Vert also focuses on measuring the amount of force someone is exerting, giving it the ability to be used across activations where fans might be throwing a football, baseball, or even swinging a tennis racquet.

The goal? Provide a solution that could give a college athletic program the opportunity to not only help its student-athletes, but also provide new experiences for fans and sponsors.

“We can tell an administrator that they are going to get an opportunity to help the student-athletes by tracking their health and wellbeing, help the coaches by providing them with extra data, show the fans a completely new and unique experience and also give the sponsors an opportunity to bring in different eyeballs.”

Adam is the Founder and CEO of Front Office Sports. A University of Miami Alum, Adam has worked for opendorse, the Fiesta Bowl, and the University of Miami Athletic Department. He can be reached at adam@frntofficesport.com.

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NeuLion College Becoming Its Own Company Is Paying Off

NeuLion College was born as a standalone to specifically serve over 70 clients, and the company has already seen exciting growth in a short period of time.

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NeuLion College - Sports - Tech

Photo credit: NeuLion College

Since 2007, NeuLion College President Tim Vargas has been leading the charge in giving college sports fans great digital experiences.

For the better part of the last 20 years, NeuLion has offered its clients solutions for web publishing, mobile app development, HD OTT video streaming and ticketing, as well as donor and guest management. In 2016, Vargas was put in charge of the company’s college accounts. Then in early 2018, NeuLion was acquired by Endeavor. The company soon realized that in order to best serve its 70-plus clients, specifically in the college space, it would need a more streamlined approach.

Soon after, NeuLion College was born as a standalone to specifically serve those clients.

People outside the world of sports marketing may not realize the stark differences between the professional and college world. Vargas believes that companies like NeuLion College simply have more to offer the college market.

READ MORE: NeuLion College’s New Tool Makes Social Marketing Easier

“One of the biggest ways that college and pro sports are different is pro sports teams usually have really solid business teams in terms of marketing prowess and analytical capabilities. Those are important things when it comes to keeping your content in front of fans and finding your fans where it matters. Pro sports teams always have great resources dedicated to that. I think it’s more the exception than the rule in college sports that you find those capabilities. So as a service provider, if we can be more than just a technology provider, but also a provider of some of that expertise, I think that makes a big difference.”

While transitions like this can be an uncertain or frightening time, Vargas seems to exude confidence about the company’s future after spinning off into its own entity.

“The transition has been tremendous, to be quite honest,” Vargas said. “Being able to focus specifically on the college side of things allows us to serve the needs of those clients in much more streamlined way. It’s also helping us develop our products at a much faster rate, and we’re advancing those products in ways that I don’t think the market expects.”

Thanks to advances in NeuLion College products like SocialDirect, Vargas and his team expect the NeuLion College brand to continue growing extensively in the next six months or so.

“We’re uniquely positioned for some pretty impressive growth; impressive, maybe not in the quantity of schools, but I definitely think it will be in the quality of schools that we start signing on with. Everybody here is really energized and engaged — and that is going to result in service like we’ve never provided before and technology like we’ve never provided before. If we can keep that momentum going, this is going to be a really interesting year coming up.”

READ MORE: How Riddell Is Changing the Game With New Football Helmet Technology

Also, expect the company to continue development on statistics technology in the near future. 

“We recognize the deficiency of our current product offering in that area. But we’re building something that I think is going to impress not just our existing portfolio, but anyone else who has looked at us and seen what our capabilities are with that respect. We’re taking the opportunity to completely rewrite and rework everything that we do with respect to stats. I think we’re going to have some features that none of our competitors have, and we’re really excited about that.”

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How Riddell Is Changing the Game With New Football Helmet Technology

The InSite Training Tool from Riddell is set to pave the way for football coaches and players to create a smarter, more intelligent game.

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Riddell - Tech - SportsFootball and well-documented head injuries have steadily been going hand in hand as medical science catches up with the game. Thankfully, this is at the forefront of Riddell’s thinking as the company continues to move its helmet technology forward.

Riddell is a premier designer and developer of protective sports equipment and an official helmet supplier of the NFL. Earlier this year, the company released its InSite Training Tool, which is a web-based data center that collects and analyzes on-field head impacts.

Sensors placed within Riddell helmets can track the severity and frequency of blows to the head that players receive during a game or practice and send that information directly to coaches. This way, coaches can easily recognize if a player has improper tackling/blocking form, needs medical attention, or if a specific practice drill is inflicting an unnecessary amount of force onto the head.

READ MORE: Will Snapchat Still Be Useful in 2019?

“This is a tool that we think has the potential to change the game because coaches now can have access to this impact data live,” said Kameron Block of Burson Cohn & Wolfe on behalf of Riddell. “If Riddell can show a coach exactly how often and where his players are being hit, then he’ll be able to take the necessary steps to change these drills and change practices to keep them safe.”

Football coaches adopting the tool are already seeing its benefits.

“The InSite Training Tool revolutionizes how we view practice and paves the way for coaches and players to create a smarter, more intelligent game,” said Dan Hunt, Colgate University’s head football coach. “The capability to influence how our athletes train and the ability to systematically assess our performance is a clear advantage over other programs. It adds more depth and substance to our player protection and evaluation processes.”

To spread the word about this innovative tool, Riddell recently launched what will be a five-part video series featuring Devin Hamrick, director of sales strategy for Riddell, and Brand Ambassador/Strategic Advisor Peyton Manning.

In this format, the show is reminiscent of what fans would see in a film room leading up to the NFL Draft. In terms of content, however, Manning and Hamrick talk at length about the InSite Training Tool’s capabilities and how it can continue to make the game safer.

“Peyton is someone who cares so deeply about this sport,” Block said. “He actually donated to Riddell’s Smarter Football campaign, where we usually give $10,000 worth of gear for 10 football programs. Thanks to Peyton’s donation this year, we were able to bring that up to 18 teams. Devin sitting down with him and showing everyone out there what this tool can do is such a great and interesting way to do it.”

READ MORE: Transmit.Live Sees the Future With Live Streaming Tech

The first two episodes of the show across Riddell’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube pages, have received more than 37,000 views. The other three episodes will be released throughout the month of December.

Not only has Riddell developed a tool that will hopefully play a part in preventing future cases of CTE and other brain injuries, but the company is presenting it in an interesting way that could pay off in terms of increasing its digital following.

“We’re just trying to give information that’s never been properly understood before and never been so readily accessible before. We hope that through this information and through our innovation with our new helmets, we can help keep the game and the kids who play it safer than in years past.”

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Transmit.Live Sees Future With Live Streaming Tech

The company is working with brands like Viacom and the NFL to help them reach larger audiences and better monetize their content.

Adam White

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Transmit.Live - Tech - Sports

Live streaming is the hottest must-have in the sports industry; from club to college to pro, audience reach across the internet, social, and OTT platforms has become a necessity.

Whether it’s watching someone play “Fortnite” on Twitch or checking out an NWHL game on Twitter, live streaming has taken social media platforms — and the content that could be placed on them — to new levels.

As platforms have evolved, the biggest problem that has arisen is that in order to live stream, say, a game to a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and maybe even a Twitch account at the same time, you would need different streams and even, in some cases, different cameras.

That’s where Transmit.Live comes in. Using the cloud, the live-streaming service centralizes live-video operations, giving users the ability to manage, distribute, analyze, and expand audiences for live content.

“We are giving our clients the ability to build a new media affiliate broadcast network.” – Scott Young, co-founder and CEO of Transmit.Live

For example, imagine if you were an NBA team that wanted to live stream practice through the team Twitter account along with the accounts of all of the players. Thanks to Transmit.Live, all you would need is one stream and the technology will do the rest, taking that stream to every single account that you want.

READ MORE: ‘Ask Amelia’ Puts Customer Service in the Palm of Fans

If you were to do that with today’s Lakers team, the potential audience from your stream would go from 7.41 million on just the Lakers’ Twitter account to over 54 million if it was distributed via all of the players’ accounts.

It’s this opportunity that Transmit.Live has capitalized on for a list of clients that includes the NFL.

“The struggle is, because of the fragmentation of all the platforms, it is difficult for entities to broadcast and reach a larger audience in the moment,” said Scott Young, co-founder and CEO of Transmit.Live. “We’ve essentially built a broadcast platform that empowers leagues, teams, and talent with the opportunity to centralize their streaming operations, maximize fan engagement, and build larger sponsorships, all while giving them the chance to have one set of data reports.”

One of the platforms in which the company has found success is on Twitch, which generally has proven to host the coveted demographic for so many advertisers.  

Collaborating with Viacom and Nickelodeon, Transmit.Live was able to identify a sponsorship opportunity for the entertainment brand and, in teaming up with Esports Arena, hosted an esports tournament in Oakland.

“Nickelodeon was looking to promote the new ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ premiere, and we were able to take content from the event and distribute it via 50 different social platforms and about one thousand different web pages, while creating 100 percent more sponsor integration touchpoints.”

Racking up four million views over the course of five hours, Young says that without the distribution, viewership numbers on the stream “probably would have reached over 500% fewer viewers.”

A sponsorship that was once selling experiential branding at flat ratesbecame one that could be sold for three to four times that figure by delivering guaranteed viewership.

READ MORE: ‘Ask Amelia’ Puts Customer Service in the Palm of Fans

While it may make sense that something like this can work well with the digitally native audience that Twitch presents, Young was quick to point out that this isn’t just a technology for esports or for leagues.

“The goal is to unlock new content that will enhance the 360-degree fan experience. I look at all of the successful programs like ‘All or Nothing’ on Amazon have had, and teams should be able to have the opportunity to do that themselves no matter how big or small an organization may be.”

In today’s media environment, even though content might be king, without distribution, you have a king locked in his castle.  

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