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LIGR: Providing live graphics solutions and a broadcast management platform benefitting Australian football 

Since 2016, Australian company LIGR have provided a range of football organisations, and the production companies that aid them, with live graphics solutions and a broadcast management platform which is simple and efficient to use.

Luke McCoy, co-founder of LIGR, explained to Soccerscene that his previous experience of owning a live production business, which broadcasted lower-tier sporting matches, inspired him to establish LIGR LIVE due to a lack of sophisticated graphics he encountered at that level.

“Previously I founded a company called Virtual Performance Analysis that turned into VPA Productions. During that process we ended up with a contract to stream the Football NSW Grand Finals,” he said. 

“The problem with any of the live broadcasts in second-tier and grassroots competitions was always how to improve match data integration into broadcast graphics. What we found was once you can achieve that, the main question and opportunity was the ability to then attach sponsors into those broadcasts, so the sports organisations who own the rights to their content could have the chance to commercialise their audience with in-game sponsorship. 

“So around four years ago we began developing the product that is now LIGR Live; an operating and broadcast management platform for live sports broadcasts. I co-founded it with my friend Adam Burke (CTO of LIGR), and we found immediate success amongst the major sports in Australia across Rugby League, Football, Aussie Rules and Cricket. 

Co-founders of LIGR – Adam Burke (left) and Luke McCoy

“The big features of that system include graphics, automation, sponsorship, fixtures, live scoring and team collaboration workflows all built around helping sports organisations produce a professional live stream that can be commercialised through in-game sponsorship display and the analytics around that.”

Since development, the company has now partnered with seven of the nine football member federations in Australia.

Most of the FFA Cup streams that happen around Australia use LIGR in some form, whether through a sports organisation account like Football NSW or a host of production companies who have a LIGR account and act independently servicing clubs directly.

LIGR play a pivotal role in a huge selection of State League, NPL and NPLW games across the country, including 550-600 games a season in Victoria, for example.

“We’re contracted to the member federations, from Football Victoria, Football NSW, Football West, Football SA etc…and it’s a combination, from their state league games up to their NPL competitions and obviously the women’s NPL as well,” McCoy said.

“LIGR Live connects external live data sources to live broadcasts including being a data supplier ourselves where external data does not exist. Most of the NPL matches have an external live data source available through Stats Perform, a global provider of live data to the sports industry, who we have a direct partnership with.

“We pull in the live data feed in real time and connect it automatically to LIGR Live and populate graphics templates that are then triggered based on real time events from the data, completely automatically removing any requirement for a graphics operator or data live scorer.”

For the NPL, LIGR have built a specific template which is only shown on broadcasts of that competition.

All of the member federations have access to this theme and the governing bodies can log in to LIGR’S cloud-based operating system and manually upload team logos, colours and ad sets, which they can flexibly incorporate at their will into their live streams.

An example of LIGR’s graphics in a Bulleen Lions match.

This aspect of commercialising the live streams through integrated advertisement placements through graphics, has helped bodies like Football NSW generate additional revenue and sponsorship opportunities.

The whole idea of streaming our competitions was to provide greater commercial opportunities for the league and our clubs,” Brian Meinrath, Head of Commercial at Football NSW, told the LIGR website.

“Using LIGR has helped us shape how we approach the market with our sponsorship offerings. To be able to work with a group that continually looks and asks how they can make their product better makes a big difference.”

Football NSW are not the only governing body to benefit commercially through the use of the LIGR service, as they, alongside Football West, Football SA, Football NT, Football Tasmania, Football Victoria and Football Queensland were the beneficiaries of a sponsorship deal with Pilot Health late last year.

Pilot Health, a male telehealth brand, purchased advertising space across all Men’s NPL live broadcasts for part of the 2020 season, in the listed state and territory federations.

“It is really exciting to be able to partner with the Australian Football Federations utilising LIGR Live’s platform to deliver this first of its kind advertising,” Pilot Health Co-Founder, Tim Doyle, said at the time of the deal.

“At Pilot we are always looking for new ways to reach our audience and the LIGR platform allows that, while also supporting the second tier of football across the country in a seamless, fast, aggregated process.”

Through the use of LIGR Live’s platform to standardise the broadcast quality, the state federations sold specific percentages of advertising time through the course of a match, including particular events such as goals, cards and team lists.

McCoy believes deals such as this showcase the true worth of his company.

“It is maybe the most encouraging sign of LIGR’s value as a company moving forward, to be able to provide a distribution network for brands to access live grassroots sports,” he said at the announcement of the deal.

“It is naturally hard for brands to do multiple small deals across multiple sports organisations. Being able to have a single, white labelled platform that aggregates those opportunities simplifies the process for brands that show a keen interest in live amateur sport, but have no way to enter the playing field effectively. 

“Pilot’s interest in the Australian football’s audience has put money directly back into the member federations which is the ultimate goal of LIGR.”

LIGR do have an eye to the future, recently partnering with Pixellot – a leader in global AI camera technologies, understanding that broadcasts at some point are going to be completely automated productions.

LIGR announced a deal with Pixellot earlier this month.

Despite this global push, McCoy is proud of the strides LIGR has already made since its creation. 

“It’s been an exciting journey so far, particularly in football, which is where we started,” he said.

“We went from one game a week, a match of the round, to 30 games a week for Football NSW, and that  spread across the member federations to help maintain quality across a large scale of content and many production suppliers.

“Now, the amount of content they are producing would almost be the most in Australia for sports organisations, in regards to their live content.

“It’s been pretty cool to see within the past few years how quickly that’s changed, so it’s definitely rewarding and exciting.”

 

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Liga MX to extend global reach through OneFootball partnership

Liga MX

OneFootball have announced a new deal with Liga MX which will see the world’s largest football media company stream live games and highlights from the Mexican top-flight, after inking an agreement with the league’s international sales partner – Spanish-based agency Mediapro Group.

With a platform used by 85 million monthly active users across the world, OneFootball will provide free-to-air coverage of between two and five live matches from teams such as Club América, Cruz Azul, Pumas, Toluca, FC Juárez, Necaxa and Tigres to the world.

Under the terms of the agreement, the football media platform will provide coverage of the summer Apertura 2021 tournament and the winter Clausura 2022 competition, featuring the league’s 18 teams.

The deal covers several regions where OneFootball currently operates, including France, Italy, Germany and the UK, along with Latin America, Africa and Asia.

OneFootball’s latest broadcasting agreement builds on a number of deals the firm has in place to air the German top-flight Bundesliga in Brazil and Latin America, the Japanese J League in Italy, and the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) in various international markets.

The new agreement with OneFootball, which adds to Mediapro Group’s extensive experience in the sale and distribution of audiovisual rights of global sports competitions, will extend the international broadcast reach of Liga MX to a vast userbase of young and highly engaged football enthusiasts around the globe.

The Mediapro Group is the global media rights sales agency of the Spanish LaLiga, the Chinese Super League and the Belgian Jupiler Pro League.

Earlier in March, OneFootball also struck a deal for the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) to become the first national federation to link up with the platform. The company has also acquired the rights to the Ligue 1 in Brazil, with the French top-tier also becoming the first professional football league to confirm an editorial collaboration with OneFootball.

SmartCart SVX the mobile touchscreen making analysis easier 

Built with versatility in mind, SmartCart SVX is the world’s first extreme brightness touchscreen system suitable for outdoor sports presentation.

Built with versatility in mind, SmartCart SVX is the world’s first extreme brightness touchscreen system suitable for outdoor sports presentation. 

Whether it be for television broadcast or coaching, this mobile solution is the best of both worlds. SmartCart SVX allows organisations to ‘get inside the game’. 

The touchscreen system, which is capable of being transported via four wheels, has been designed for live production and used in conjuction with TV sports broadcasters around the world.  

The uniqueness of this system means that rather being restricted to an indoor studio, broadcasters are now able to present in different ways via an outdoor setting. A built-in power supply and server means there’s very little hassle when setting up at location. 

SmartCart SVX has gone through rigorous testing to ensure it can stand up to extreme conditions that it may encounter, while also having the robust design that allows it to run smoothly – including adequate lighting even in bright sunshine. 

The brightness is as high as the latest stadium screens in full daylight, so there’s no trouble in making out what is being viewed. The bold and striking screen adds something extra to sports coverage, as presentation and analysis can be done live at the ground and even on the pitch, eliminating the need to cross to a studio or use a green screen background to get that match day feel. 

Most notably, SmartCart SUX was utilised throughout Euro 2016 in France, with the touchscreen technology helping to preview who would reach the final, while a comprehensive analysis of Germany’s Mats Hummels’ performance showed how he quelled the influence of Poland’s attacking duo of Robert Lewandowski and Arkadiusz Milik. Vision can be stopped so that the touchscreen can circle, highlight or even change what’s shown on screen. 

Presenters can also do interviews with players or coaches with SmartCart SVX backing them, opening the door for immediate post-match thoughts with a particular match highlight or moment analysed on the spot. This would do wonders for broadcast, giving viewers a greater insight into what goes on during a match. 

SmartCart SVX technology is tailor made not just for broadcast, but for club coaches seeking a reliable resource to communicate directly with their players. As is the case in broadcast, a coach can use the touchscreen to his or her advantage to bring up pieces of play that worked well or need improving – for instance a starting formation, attacking forays or defensive shape. The touchscreen feature allows coaches to move players around or change things on a still image to work out exactly what they are after from their team.

With the anytime, anywhere ability of SmartCart SVX, coaches can show recorded footage of gameplay that they are ideally looking for and then allow the players to immediately replicate it, with the quick turnaround between watching and putting it to action a very helpful tool during practice.

SmartCart SVX is a cost-effective alternative that requires very little equipment, but delivers coverage that gets everyone closer to the action and at the same time brings compelling content with an easy-to-use interface. It has already been trusted by major competitions UEFA Champions League, English Premier League and the aforementioned UEFA Euro 2016, while other sporting codes include the PGA Tour & European Tour (golf), European Rugby Champions Cup, Investec Ashes Series 2013 (cricket), National Football League (NFL) and the Wimbledon Championships (tennis). 

Operating throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and United States, sports broadcasters and clubs are fully supported in any analysis or coaching ventures they want to achieve.

To see more of SmartCart in action, including short videos of sports presenters using the touchscreen, you can find it here.

Benchwarmers: Providing a sportswear solution to improve player performance and safety

Australian company Benchwarmers have developed an innovative solution, through their functional sporting attire, to keep players warm when they are not on the field.

Their product, a body-length garment, is specifically designed to keep the most vulnerable parts of the body warm such as the upper legs, whilst keeping the arms free to allow players to regulate their own body temperature.

The item is ultra-lightweight and includes other features such as insulated inside pockets, a hood, a resistance to water and wind, as well as fully fleeced lining for extra warmth.

Creator of the product, Andrew Lauder, recently developed the Benchwarmer after his previous experiences as a coach on the sidelines.

“I identified that there was a problem years ago, he told Soccerscene.

“I was coaching young kids and was having to take down blankets and stuff to keep them warm on the benches.

“Some kids in football once they get a head knock or something, they go into a little bit of a shock and there was nothing to keep them warm on the bench apart from club hoodies or something along those lines, which was ridiculous.”

“Over the 2020 period I sort of started designing Benchwarmers, working out the features of how best to do it and have continued to go on from there.”

Lauder explained it was extremely necessary for grassroots players to keep their muscles warm on the bench before they came on, to avoid hamstring strains and other common soft tissue injuries.

“The main point is, especially with juniors and amateurs, they are sitting on the bench waiting for their time to come on and they don’t warm up like the professionals do,” he said.

“Professionals may say ‘let’s jump on the bike and get your legs moving’, but the kids and the amateurs they run on without properly warming up their body.”

The design of the Benchwarmers product.

Lauder has built up the product to a local and international audience and has found some success in doing so, despite it being a relatively new product.

“I put it out there to the kids, because that’s where I started it all,” he said.

“But at the moment it’s the amateurs in England who have started grabbing it and some clubs here.

“One thing that I get sometimes with the smaller clubs is they love it but they don’t want to pay for it. With junior clubs they are obviously volunteers and they are more hesitant to make the decision to spend the money. It’s crazy because you ask them every time, what do you have in the kitbag to keep the kids warm? They usually have nothing, just club jackets, which I don’t believe is sufficient.”

Lauder continues to invest his time into avenues which will grow the presence of his item, such as social media work, further marketing of Benchwarmers and listening to customer’s feedback.

“My main thing at this point of time is that I’ve been doing a lot of direct email marketing which I’ve put out,” he said.

“I am also building the Instagram and Facebook pages to target clubs and people to sort of get them onto it and that has started to work in some cases.

“Some feedback I’ve received by one of the clubs, for example, showed me the benefits of how important it is to be a lightweight product. One club wanted ten of them and wanted his manager to be able to put them into the kit bag and carry them from job to job. They don’t take up too much space, their waterproof, their fully lined inside, they’ve been developed with 40cm pockets on the inside which are insulated – all these things help.”

The creator of Benchwarmers hopes the product will continue to have steady growth here in Australia and overseas in the long term.

“In the future I wish that the Benchwarmers brand is in a hell of a lot of clubs and people are wrapped they have them for their kids,” Lauder said.

“Basically, I want them to think to themselves, why didn’t we do this or buy this years ago?”

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