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Second Spectrum: The technology behind MLS and Premier League

Second Spectrum are the world leading manufacturer of machines which understand sports and the experts at creating value from tracking data.

Founded in 2013, the industry innovators create tools designed to help teams gain an added advantage over their opponents. Their range of cutting-edge technology in computer vision, machine learning, big data, augmented reality and product design ensure that teams & leagues are assured a substantial return on their investment.

Considered the most advanced player tracking system in the world, Second Spectrum allows for teams and leagues to understand, evaluate, improve and create content about their game by producing fast and accurate location data.

Second Spectrum boast an impressive roster of partnerships, having been the Official Optical Tracking Provider for the English Premier League since 2019, the National Basketball Association (NBA) since 2017 and for Major League Soccer (MLS) since 2020.

Logo Second Spectrum

In addition, Second Spectrum work across several other leagues and with many other clubs across Europe and the US, with over 100 employees stationed across 5 countries in addition to their headquarters in Los Angeles.

In terms of functionality, the platform combines powerful video querying, intuitive visualisations, advanced statistics and customised reports in one simple interface. These come in the form of automated pre-game, post-game, team and player reports, all of which are delivered to users via automated PDF reports sent directly to one’s inbox that can be amended in keeping with the metrics critical to the organisation utilising the platform.

The platform’s video component can ingest an organisation’s existing video sources or can record games using Second Spectrum’s state-of-the-art camera system. Using the system’s unique and unmatched data set of machine-learned video indexing allows the user to search every game and to find any desired action within seconds.

Second Spectrum struck a partnership with Major League Soccer in February, 2020, marking a significant moment for the league going forward.

Prior to the delayed start of the 2020 season, Second Spectrum installed its state-of-the-art optical tracking system in every MLS stadium. By leveraging their cameras and their cloud-based analytics engine, Second Spectrum were able to provide clubs with data on the location of every player, the referees, and the ball twenty-five times per second throughout the season.

In addition, the software can calculate a player’s speed, acceleration, deceleration and shot velocity, as well as advanced statistics like passing probability and expected goals, in almost real time.

“We’re incredibly excited to partner with MLS and its teams. The combination of our new technologies and capabilities with a forward-thinking organization like MLS creates an exciting future of continued growth and innovation together,” Second Spectrum CEO Rajiv Maheswaran said.

The partnership was seen by MLS as a major stride in their progression and evolution as a league, with Senior Vice President of MLS, Chris Schlosser, acknowledging the opportunities afforded by Second Spectrum coming on board.

“MLS’ partnership with Second Spectrum sets a new standard for innovation in player-tracking in soccer,” he said.

“Along with Second Spectrum, MLS will deliver an enhanced new fan experience, bringing innovation to MLS content while providing MLS clubs and technical staff with new tools to enhance player performance.”

All MLS matches, including MLS Cup Playoffs, the MLS Cup, the MLS All-Star Game and the Leagues Cup & Campeones will be covered as a part of the wide-ranging partnership.

In spite of the impact of COVID-19 on industries across the world, Second Spectrum announced an expanded partnership with the English Premier League and sports tech leader in data & AI technology, Stats Perform, in September, 2020.

The renewed association saw Second Spectrum synchronising its tracking data and Stats Perform’s feeds to add new context and tactical information previously not available. Entitled the ‘Insight Feed’, the collaborative effort is considered to be the most comprehensive and robust set of football data available.

The Premier League were delighted to have developed the feed with Second Spectrum & Stats Perform.

“As the world’s most watched sport league we are delighted to partner with two innovative partners in Stats Perform and Second Spectrum, who have combined to produce a new Insights feed that will enhance storytelling and provide a new perspective of the Premier League to all our fans,” they said.

Second Spectrum added to the Premier League’s enthusiasm.

“We are delighted to partner with organizations like Stats Perform and the Premier League to bring state-of-the-art technology to the highest levels of football,” they said.

“We are excited to show how together we can both improve our understanding of the intricacies of the game and simultaneously move the game forward with the best data and insights that the sport deserves.”

You can find more about Second Spectrum via the link here.

How KEEPUP will revolutionise football in Australia

Late last week, the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) launched their new $30 million digital platform KEEPUP.

The main aim of the new digital hub is to convert a larger proportion of the 8 million football fans in this country into supporters of Australia’s premier domestic competitions.

“The platform was delivered to broaden and enhance the fan experience, connecting A-Leagues fans and international competition fans in one place,” a statement from the APL read.

“In its current form, the platform will focus on creating and curating content to bring fans close to the game however they choose, with significant expansion planned into the future.

“KEEPUP will feature compelling content from the best of the A-Leagues, European and world football, the Socceroos and Matildas, NPL, and FFA Cup.

“A-League clubs’ content hubs will also be integrated onto the platform to ensure fans are offered the most comprehensive football resource available in Australia.”

KEEPUP, across their website and app, have already begun producing a wide array of content from breaking news stories, expert columns from football journalists, articles on football culture, video productions and in-depth analysis features, not just on the A-League, but world football.

The KEEPUP team is led by Optus’ former director of sport Richard Bayliss, who is in charge of the editorial, social media and production practices across the platform.

KEEPUP will have a strong impetus on keeping editorial independence and not cheerlead for the APL and its clubs at every opportunity.

“Day one of the launch we had two A-League CEOs complaining about criticism on our platform, this is all about being authentic and you can’t have a propaganda site,” APL Managing Director, Danny Townsend, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Football fans are extremely discerning and the minute they see something that is not authentic…they’ll call that out.”

Alongside the diverse content on the platform, KEEPUP will look to innovate in ways which will engage new audiences and provide those they already have connected with, with unique experiences.

“This is just the beginning,” Chief Commercial Officer at the APL, Ant Hearne, said.

“We have a bold plan to evolve KEEPUP into an unparalleled global digital hub, expanding functionality beyond a content base to include gamification, e-Commerce, ticketing, second screen live stadium experiences and loyalty programs.”

Other codes in Australia such as Cricket, AFL and NRL have all invested heavily in their own digital content over time, however the $30 million digital investment from the APL is playing to the strategic advantages that football has over other sports.

“I look at what the other sports are doing and they’re very much wed, fortunately, to TV deals that mean they don’t need to do what we’re doing,” Townsend told the SMH.

“We’re in a situation where we’ve got an enormous base, we’ve got the youngest fan base of any sport in the country who are all digital natives. We’re going to get into the direct-to-consumer business and that will preserve the long-term revenues and build the football economy.”

If you register an account on KEEPUP (which is free to do so), you will receive a four-week trial to Paramount+ – the service which is showcasing the majority of Australian football games for the next five years.

This offer is a slice of things to come between the APL and their new broadcast partner ViacomCBS, with future plans for content from the digital platform to be integrated further into the Channel 10 Network and Paramount+.

“What Channel 10 and ViacomCBS bought into was our strategy,” Townsend told the SMH.

“The ViacomCBS deal was a really critical one for us on many levels financially, but equally the reach it delivers us. But importantly, the owners have continued to invest and put their money where their mouth is.

“The sports media and commercial landscape is changing and the days of sports just serving up content on television, taking a big cheque and playing sport are over. It’s changing in a way that requires sports to take the initiative and connect with their fans.

“We’ve got to become an entertainment business because at the end of the day, if we’re going to grow revenues of the sport, we need to engage our fans more effectively.”

The APL’s KEEPUP platform has only been around for just over a week, but its long-term agenda has the potential to change the perception of the game in this country.

A-League rivals unite to build sports industry career pathway

Derby

A-League rivals Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory have joined forces off the pitch to provide a new education opportunity for students to further support their communities.

After the successful launch of the Melbourne Victory Sport & Business Program in Victoria this year, Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC have launched a new dual Diploma program for students in New South Wales in 2022.

The Sport & Business Programs are a one-year dual diploma powered by SEDA Group (SEDA), the leaders in applied learning in the sports industry. Students will have the opportunity to develop skills in everything from football specific high-performance activities, such as coaching and sports science, to other areas around the business, including sponsorship, fundraising, event management, media and marketing.

Despite the impact of COVID-19 on the sports industry, the first year of the Melbourne Victory Sport and Business Program has given inaugural students the opportunity to thrive.

Student Joel Martin had the opportunity to work with the Melbourne Victory coaching and membership teams working on a blended approach to his work placement.

“There were a lot of positives for me to come out of the program placement. In planning for large scale projects, I have learnt from not just from Melbourne Victory but also other experts in the sports industry,” Martin said.

Students will benefit from invaluable practical help on their career path, within the sports and recreation industry. Innovative new courses are designed to offer on-the-job training within professional football.

Football leads the way as the only Australian sport to have three A-League clubs offering this type of course for the benefit the sports community.

Melbourne Victory Managing Director Caroline Carnegie:

“Our partnership with SEDA has been essential to our education pillar. This has been an exciting way for Victory to identify and develop the next generation of talented off-field administrators and support staff just like Joel.”

Sydney FC Chief Executive Officer Danny Townsend:

“Sydney FC are committed to making an impact on the educational journey of students who want a career in sport. We aim to expose students to a range of learning opportunities which will help them in designing their own careers and make positive contributions to their community.”

Western Sydney Wanderers Chief Executive Officer John Tsatsimas:

“Students will not only have the opportunity to work directly on exciting projects such as our Community Development Programs but also connect in with some of our leading industry experts from the club across sports science and marketing.”

Applications are open to all eligible Year 12 graduate students for the new diploma program, beginning in February 2022.

Prospective students can head to seda.edu.au for more information.

Students and parents will have the opportunity to attend information sessions being held prior to upcoming A-League Men’s fixtures.

Sydney FC Sport and Business Program Information Session – Pre-game Saturday November 27 vs Macarthur at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium (5:30pm – 6:30pm)

Western Sydney Wanderers Sport and Business Program Information Session – Pre-game  Sunday November 28 vs Newcastle Jets at CommBank Stadium (4:30pm – 5:30pm)

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