Category Archives: NBA

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MGM GVC Interactive Partners With Sportradar on Sports Betting Data

Sportradar will be the exclusive provider of sports betting data to MGM GVC Interactive for the half-dozen leagues and federations for which it is the official provider: the NBA, the NFL, the NHL, NASCAR, FIFA, and UEFA. MGM Resorts partnered with U.K.-based betting platform GVC Holdings this summer on a joint venture in the U.S. Sportradar will provide pre-match and live betting services as well as bet stimulation content such as live match trackers.
MGM Resorts has been an active player in the U.S. market in preparation for further state-by-state legalization of sports betting. The global entertainment and gaming company was the first to partner with a major sports league on data rights when MGM became the official gaming partner of the NBA this summer. Since then, MGM has announced a similar deal with the NHL. MGM GVC Interactive was launched in July with $100 million of seed money from both companies.
“MGM and GVC are leaders in the sports betting landscape, and we are proud to be their provider for U.S. sports data,” Neale Deeley, Sportradar’s VP of gaming sales, said in a statement. “We have been preparing for the opening of the U.S. market for some time now with an across the board ramp up of our U.S. sports betting offering and we are delighted with this endorsement from MGM and GVC that all the hard work is delivering what world class betting operators are looking for.”
SportTechie Takeaway
When MGM and the NBA announced their partnership at the end of July, basketball commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged that the data feed to MGM might come via a third party. That Sportradar would be that supplier is little surprise, given the company’s existing work with the NBA, but this deal will enable MGM GVC Interactive to have access to fast, reliable data feeds in several other sports, too. The NBA and NHL deals include some of each respective league’s proprietary advanced tracking data, but Sportradar’s analysis and engagement tools will now be added to those the data feeds.


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ESPN+ Expands NBA G League Coverage With New Multi-Year Deal

More than 200 NBA G League games each season will be coming to the ESPN+ streaming platform as part of a multi-year deal announced on Nov. 5. The deal started Tuesday when the Westchester Knicks defeated the Delaware Blue Coats in the G League season opener.
ESPN+ will broadcast multiple G League games per day every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of the 2019 season. The agreement will also expand G league coverage across ESPN’s linear television networks, with scheduling details expected to be announced in the coming weeks according to an ESPN press release.

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“From Greensboro to Stockton, Erie to Austin, there are basketball fans all over the country. This agreement illustrates the promise and capability of ESPN+ to super serve fans,” said Russell Wolff, Executive VP and GM of ESPN+, in the press release. “We’re excited to showcase some of the developing NBA talent and bring more great basketball events to ESPN+ subscribers.”
A subscription to ESPN+ costs $4.99 per month. Additional basketball coverage already offered by ESPN+ includes the live streaming of thousands of college basketball games and hundreds of games from FIBA competitions. In September, ESPN+ also announced the addition of a sports business show featuring NBA All-Star Kevin Durant.
SportTechie Takeaway
ESPN+ surpassed one million paid subscribers just five months after the direct-to-consumer media app was released in April. The platform offers a diverse range of original programming and has secured broadcast rights to mostly niche sports leagues. While the average sports fan may not watch games from the developmental league, diehard followers of basketball will see value in this added coverage.


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David Stern Talks Sports Betting, NBA Tech and His ShotTracker Investment

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Former NBA commissioner David Stern and ShotTracker co-founder Davyeon Ross joined Bram Weinstein on the SportTechie podcast to chat about ShotTracker’s growing integration into basketball, and how sports betting will impact the viewing experience for NBA fans. Stern is an investor in ShotTracker, whose sensor-based technology and data analytics will be available to team personnel on the bench at the NCAA’s Hall of Fame Classic on Nov. 19 and 20.
“Coaches are gonna get shot charts for both teams in real-time,” Ross said. “They’ll get optimal lineups and advanced analytics that give them information about how they’re performing in transition versus half-court, whether its [comparing] ball reverses versus paint touches, or ‘What’s my points-per-possession and field goal percentage if I have less than three passes?’”
David Stern: Why sports betting providers are interested in real-time data analytics companies
“With respect to the advent of sports betting, if the potential bettor has faster information than the enterprise that’s taking the bet, that really tilts the odds dramatically to the bettor. So this is an important reason why many of the companies that are engaged in transmitting gambling information are interested in what ShotTracker can do.”
Davyeon Ross: How ShotTracker selects which data metrics to provide
“We’ve worked with a lot of exceptional coaches from numerous coaches from some of the top-25 universities at the Division-I level. We asked them ‘What are the five things that are important to you?’ These coaches know what they want so we started constructing our algorithms to be able to provide the information to them.”
David Stern: Why his opinion on sports betting has since changed since leaving the role of NBA commissioner
“I testified in favor of PASPA [the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act] in 1991 as commissioner. It was a serious item of faith that sports leagues should not support betting on their games. I was consistent on that for a lot of different reasons but daily fantasy turned me around on that. I thought we had to keep sports fans—our home team fans—happy if the home team won and the last thing we wanted was have [anyone] upset if the home team won but didn’t cover [the spread]. That’s a quaint, old perception of mine that had to undergo some changes because of daily fantasy.”
David Stern: How technology will evolve the sports broadcast viewing experience for fans
“We are on the cusp—it may take three or four years—of a next generation of information that is going to go with the broadcast of the game. There’s going to be social media involved while watching the game. The ability to bring up statistics at any time you might request. The ability to watch the game with avatars who are representing friends of yours by WiFi. There’s going to be the ability to have somebody else broadcast the game if you’re not favoring the play-by-play announcers. If you keep going, you’re going to come to the conclusion ‘Why not odds and the ability to make a bet?’”
Hear the full interview with Stern and Ross, including their thoughts on how ShotTracker and the Golden State Warriors’ style of play is changing the way youth basketball players approach the game, on this episode of the SportTechie Podcast with Bram Weinstein.


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Kobe Bryant Participates in $30 Million Funding Round for RingDNA

RingDNA, an enterprise sales management platform, has raised $30 million in a new funding round that was led by Goldman Sachs with participation from five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant.
The round included participation from previous investors Palisades Growth Capital and Bryant Stibel, a venture capital firm jointly run by Bryant and Jeff Stibel.
The company, which uses “conversation data” powered by artificial intelligence to help sales teams manage their relationships with clients, said it has been cashflow positive for two years and plans to use the cash influx to power a new growth stage.
In a joint statement, Bryant and Stibel said they originally invested in ringDNA in 2014 because they believed in founder Howard Brown, his team, and saw a large and untapped market opportunity.

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“With this latest growth equity round from Goldman Sachs, RingDNA has added another world-class partner aligned with its goal of helping enterprise sales organizations analyze and learn from their game film to become smarter and more effective,” they said.
Brown said the company is focused on “augmenting, contextualizing, and training” sales reps to be better by guiding them through sales conversations. RingDNA analyzes millions of calls with deep learning, AI and psychological principles to surface patterns in calls so that reps can optimize conversations.
“Conversations are not as unique as we all assume,” he said. “There are patterns to how prospects and customers communicate with sales and support reps.”
Some of RingDNA’s existing customers include Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Amazon Web Services, Autodesk, SAP Concur, Cvent, Lyft, and Twilio.
SportTechie Takeaway
Kobe is among the former and current professional athletes who are making a post-athletic career investing in startups. His investments have taken him in and outside the world of sports. In 2015, for example, Bryant Stibel led an early investment in the Player’s Tribune. Bryant also made a lucrative $6 million investment in the athletic drink BodyArmor. The former Lakers all-star saw his investment in the brand, which is marketed as a healthier alternative to Gatorade, rocket in value to roughly $200 million after Coca-Cola scooped up a minority stake in the company earlier this year, according to ESPN.
SportTechie selected Bryant Stibel as a nominee in the Outstanding Investor category for the 2017 SportTechie Awards.


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Mural of Mavericks’ Dennis Smith Jr. Comes to Life in Dallas

A giant mural of Dallas Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. was unveiled in the heart of downtown Dallas ahead of the team’s home opener on Oct. 20. Facebook is giving fans the opportunity to see the 68’ by 193’ mural come to life for a slam dunk through augmented reality.
Fans must install the Facebook mobile app to be able to view the AR experience. Facebook camera filters will transform the image of Smith Jr. on the wall of the Dallas YMCA building into motion video. The experience was built by creative technology studio Groove Jones and uses Facebook image recognition technology to activate when pointed at the giant mural.

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“We want our fans to be proud that we’re the first team to do something this big with augmented reality. We are grateful to Groove Jones who helped us bring this experience to Dallas,” said Jerome Elenez, CMO of the Dallas Mavericks, in a team press release.
Smith Jr. elevates for a slam dunk, then appears to land on his feet right in the YMCA parking lot.

The project was the result of a collaboration between GrooveTech AR and the Spark AR Facebook platform, with graphics provided by the Mavericks. The mural, which will remain active through December, is the largest AR installation ever integrated within Facebook’s platform.
“They had this great mural design of Dennis Smith Jr., that was based on some game footage. We loved the energy and action that was captured in the frame and we wanted to bring it to life,” said Dale Carman, Partner and ECD of Groove Jones, on the company’s website.
SportTechie Takeaway
Through augmented and virtual reality, the sports industry is exploring the next frontier of advertising to consumers in the digital age. This installation if one of the more creative ways a sports team has used AR to engage with fans. FOX also recently aired augmented reality ads for YouTube TV during its live broadcast of the World Series.


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Kevin Love Will Host Web Series to Promote Mental Health

Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love opened up to the media last year about his personal encounters with anxiety and depression, hoping to create better understanding in society about mental health. Love will now host his own web series dedicated to discussing healthy masculinity sponsored by shaving brand Schick Hydro.
Swimmer Michael Phelps and NBA veteran’s Paul Pierce and Channing Frye will join Love as guests on the series, titled Locker Room Talk. The show will generate conversations surrounding what positive masculinity means today. Locker Room Talk’s 54-second trailer premiered last Thursday on the Schick Hydro website and YouTube channel.
“I am grateful to have been chosen by Schick Hydro to host Locker Room Talk in hopes of shining a light on issues of masculinity that impact all men,” said Kevin Love in a press release. “Through this new series, I hope that together, we can inspire all men to embrace their own version of positive masculinity.”
A new episode will be released each week throughout November. Locker Room Talk will also encourage donations to the Movember Foundation and Kevin Love Fund through online fundraising platform Omaze. Those who donate at least $10 will be eligible to hang out with Love and receive VIP access to the Cavaliers v. Utah Jazz game on Jan. 4.
Love’s one-on-one discussion with Phelps will air during the week of Nov. 5. The following week will feature Love’s teammate and close friend Frye, who will talk about the importance of teamwork and teaching his kids that there is nothing wrong with showing emotions. Locker Room Talk concludes during the week of Nov. 19 when Pierce will discuss how “locker room talk” has evolved throughout his 19-year playing career.
“We chose to feature Love, Phelps, Pierce, and Frye because they are all true to themselves,” said Patrick Kane, group segment director, men’s shave at Edgewell Personal Care, in the press release. “Each of these athletes achieved the highest levels of success, while helping shape the conversation around what healthy masculinity looks like today.”
SportTechie Takeaway
Love was encouraged to pen a deeply personal article in The Players’ Tribune last year about his own battles with mental health (including an in-game panic attack during the Cavs’ 2017-18 regular season) after fellow NBA-star Demar Derozan spoke to the Toronto Star about his bouts with depression. The world of new media has given athletes unprecedented access to partnering with brands or starting their own media platforms to spread important messages.


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Brooklyn Nets Forward Kenneth Faried Launched a Foundation From Fortnite

SportTechie’s Athletes Voice series features the views and opinions of the athletes who use and are powered by technology. As part of this series, SportTechie spoke with Kenneth Faried to find out about his esports gaming and tech-driven training.
To be the first to hear each athlete’s insights, subscribe to the Athletes Voice newsletter.
Kenneth Faried spent the first seven seasons of his NBA career with the Denver Nuggets before an offseason trade landed him with the Brooklyn Nets for the upcoming campaign. The power forward is also a graduate of Morehead State where he broke Tim Duncan’s modern-era NCAA Division I career rebounding record with 1,673 boards.
In June, Faried paired with pro gamer CourageJD—a last-minute substitution as teammate—to finish second in Epic Games’ Fortnite Pro-Am, winning $250,000 for charity. He used that as seed money to start a foundation he’s calling Kenneth Faried HAT. He also sponsors an AAU team called Manimal Elite, in a nod to his own nickname. 
Initial Interest in Technology
“When I went to school, I actually told my mom and my dad that I wanted to study CSIS [Computer Science and Information Systems]. I was going to do that in college, but it was just too difficult for me to do while playing basketball because it was too much of a headache to stay up and do coding. Basketball in college was harder—two-a-days, with sprints at 5 o’clock in the morning because you’ve got school at 8 o’clock. That was brutal. I ended up majoring in speech communication and got a minor in business management.”

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Basketball Training
“I use a camera all the time. We keep track with heart-rate monitors, your explosion, how much weight you’re putting on one knee, or when you jump, which side you favor when landing. I learn so much with technology to get better. I want to know the quickest way to get better or the quickest to not be hurt anymore.
“And look at all the analytics: how many times this person goes right, left. They record that with technology to break down everything. It ends up on your iPad or your phone.”
“There’s a machine, VertiMax, where you wear a vest, and you hook these straps up to a tension band. Usually a coach would throw it off the backboard, and it keeps track of your movements. The bands pull you down so you won’t have as much strength. The plate keeps track of how much force you’re putting down when you’re landing, so you can put less force on the bottom. It keeps track of what I’m doing with my body and how much strength to put on or take off. They usually use air pressure with it, too, so yeah, there’s a lot of stuff going on around here.”
Family (Video) Games
“I got into gaming because of my dad and, weirdly enough, my mom. My mom and my dad both were gamers. My mom has a TV in her room beside her bed where she has an Xbox she likes to play. My dad has his Xbox set up to his TV and uses it for the cable and knows how to do all that. He plays his Xbox with me—like we’ll play against each other in Madden or we’ll play with each other in Dynasty Warriors. I try to get him to play Fortnite, but he’s not real big into that. He likes sports games and RPG games.
“I’ve got my parents all the way up to the Xbox One. We’re going to keep going. Whenever a new system drops, they’re going to get it with me. All those times they said, ‘Go on and go play your game and get out of my room’—it paid off with Fornite.”
(Photo credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
The Fortnite Pro-Am
“Let me tell you about that, that was crazy. First, I was supposed to be playing with Summit1G, but an illness came over him so he couldn’t travel, which was understandable. They replaced him with CourageJD, so me and him teamed up and it was great. Summit and I had already been connected and talking about what we were going to do and had been playing together. For him to not play, I was like, ‘Aw man, I need a substitution.’ I didn’t know he wasn’t going to be there. I literally didn’t find out until I got there, and they told me, ‘Yeah, your partner has changed. You don’t have Summit no more.’ I was like, ‘Wait, what?’
“Courage came in, we met, talked about strategy right there in front of each other, and next thing you know, we played the first game. I came in 35th out of 100, which was a singles match. I was getting warmed up, seeing how people are. I was watching Courage, and he did pretty good—almost came in first on that one. Then the second game together, we came in fourth place and then we lost to Ninja and DJ Marshmellow. They killed us. Then, the last game, same story. We came in second place to them. But it was fun, though. Courage was really a great partner, kudos to him. He was a great teacher also and leader. He led us through the whole thing.”
His New Foundation
“With the money I won for charity, I started a foundation called Kenneth Faried HAT. ‘HAT’ means humble, appreciative, and thankful. I’ve been a person my whole life who believed that, through obstacles in life that you see, you may have good and bad, but you should always remain humble, appreciative, and thankful for everything—no matter what heights you reach in life or what you receive in this life.
“The foundation builds upon that for kids. I’m trying to teach kids to be this way through basketball and the fundamentals of basketball, teamwork, being a partner to somebody, being respectful, listening to a leader and not just a coach as a leader. Some players step up and become leaders. We’re trying to teach that through basketball and other sports.”


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Suns Fans Can Now Venmo to Pay for Merchandise and Tickets

PayPal has signed a multi-year deal to become the official payment partner of the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, and Spanish soccer team Real Club Deportiva Mallorca. The deal gives fans the option to pay for Suns merchandise and tickets through PayPal and Venmo via integration in the Suns mobile app.
Both the Suns and Mercury play their home games at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. RCD Mallorca is owned by Suns managing partner Robert Sarver, which explains its inclusion in the deal. Specific terms of the sponsorship were not announced. 
“PayPal will be a payment option at Talking Stick Resort Arena point of sale terminals and at the Suns Team Shop in the arena, while fans will be able to access PayPal through the Official Suns Mobile App,” an official Suns press release states. “The Suns will also make PayPal Credit available for Suns’ SixthMan members to purchase season tickets. PayPal Here card readers will be integrated at point of sale for chip, swipe, and tap payments, and fans will be able to pay with their Venmo balance throughout the arena.”
As part of the deal, the PayPal logo will appear on the front left of Suns jerseys for the 2018/19 NBA season. PayPal has operated a technology center in nearby Scottsdale, Arizona since 2006. In 2013, PayPal acquired ownership of Braintree, the parent company of Venmo, for $800 million.
“In an increasingly digital and mobile world, there’s no better teammate for this extensive partnership than an innovative industry leader like PayPal,” said Suns President and Chief Executive Officer Jason Rowley in the press release. “Through this partnership, we’ll utilize PayPal’s leadership and expertise in technology and innovation to help create a better experience for our fans at home and around the globe.”
SportTechie Takeaway
Venmo blends a mobile payment service with social interaction. User’s see a social media-like newsfeed and can share transactions with friends, and like other’s posts. The company reported $14.2 billion in transaction volume during the second quarter of 2018, representing a 78 percent year-on-year increase. Over a 12-month period, Venmo also reported $46 billion in transaction volume. “Venmo” is becoming a common verb in the technology augmented world, and the Suns appear to be ahead of the curve by integrating the service with their mobile app to facilitate payments. This is similar to what Venmo did through its partnership with Uber.


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