August 14, 2020

Fan Fact
According to Draftkings, 78% of fans are comfortable sacrificing some traditional aspects of attending live sporting events (such as tailgating and being able to purchase food/drinks at concession stands) if it means sports will resume sooner.


Top Story

NBA virtual crowd-noise mix is complex and authentic

Perhaps no sport lives and dies by the intensity of its crowd reactions as much as basketball. With triple-digit game scores as close as a single point with tenths of a second left on the clock, crowd reactions can literally influence the outcome of games. That fact confronted the folks figuring out how to re-create the sounds and swells of those crowds when the NBA began its COVID-shortened and crowd-less season in late July, within a protective bubble inside the Wide World of Sports venues (WWoS) at Disney World.

How has the NBA tried to replicate the experience?

“The goal was to replicate what the players would hear if there were 18,000 people around them in an arena,” says Carlton Myers, Associate VP, live production and entertainment, NBA Entertainment. “A 360-degree soundscape where the sound would come from all directions, and it would sound different for home and visitors and for each shot.” It was a tall order, and it produced a startlingly realistic sonic environment that authentically re-creates what NBA players experience on the courts, doing so with a technology infrastructure unlike any ever seen.

Hundreds of audio clips sit atop an ambient bed of “murmur” tracks, a concatenation of hundreds of indistinguishable voices also culled from NBA-related sources. These form the foundation for individual fan and crowd sounds controlled by two “sound sweeteners”— audio mixers with broadcast and other professional CVs — per game via the QLab interface. Each interface offers separate, virtual activation buttons for dozens of individual sound clips, and each channel that these team-specific clips are assigned to has five intensity levels that the mixers can choose based on the heat of the moment during play; the murmur tracks have nine intensity levels and will continuously ebb and flow with the game’s narrative like the underscore to a film. There’s yet another step as well: the interface is programmed to “randomize” the sounds, so that no single clip is played over again.

The bottom line:

“We’re trying to replicate the intensity and the anticipation that the players feel during a game in a full arena,” Myers said. “That’s not easy. But we’re succeeding.”

Read: Sports Video Group


LEAGUES

To broadcast games on Saturdays, NFL may need to seek permission from government

As Covid-19 is setting fire to fall college athletics, the National Football League might be looking to alter its schedule to include Saturday games, perhaps even Friday contests, but there is one obstacle – U.S. law. Chapter 32 in Title 15 of the United States Code states the NFL is prohibited from airing its content on Friday evenings starting at 6 p.m. or “on any Saturday” as high school and college football games typically occupy those days/time slots in the fall.

NFL could require a wavier to broadcast games on Saturdays, but also noted the league “would be leery of damaging its relationship with college football.” Also, the NFL would need approval from the National Football League Players Association, and preliminary discussions have not taken place.

Read: CNBC


BRANDS

BodyArmor takes aim at Gatorade's sports drink dominance

BodyArmor is making noise in the sports drink market, announcing seven new athlete partnerships last week, including Christian McCaffrey, Sabrina Ionescu and Ronald Acuña Jr. BodyArmor relies on younger, fresher talent like Trae Young and Naomi Osaka, while partnering with smaller, up-and-coming leagues like MLS and the UFC. (Gatorade does also have young stars like Bryce Harper and Zion Williamson — they haven't entirely eschewed that generation.)

Gatorade leans fully into its role as a "point of sweat" companion, filling its Instagram feed with home workouts. BodyArmor's page feels a bit more organically 2020, leaning into audience engagement. "This is either going to go bankrupt in five years or going to be the No. 1 sports drink by 2025," BodyArmor CEO Mike Repole said.

Read: Axios


Platforms

Chelsea seek to monetise coaching expertise with Perfect Play platform

English top-tier soccer club Chelsea has rolled out a mobile-friendly coaching platform that seeks to monetise the expertise of its academy coaches. Available at entry level for free, the Perfect Play app also includes a premium tier priced at UK£9.99 (US$13.07) per month. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR), the digital offering allows users to analyse performance virtually, focusing on skills such as dribbling, passing, and shooting, as well as speed and mental preparation.

The premium tier offers unlimited access to masterclass content and the ability to develop personalised training plans. Initially only available on iOS, Chelsea said that a version will soon follow for mobile users on Android. “Perfect Play has been created with the experience and expertise of the management of the Chelsea Academy, which is one of the elite football academies in the world," Chelsea chief executive Guy Laurence said. “Our vision is to share this immersive focus on technical, tactical and physical football development, not just with the select few who are fortunate enough to train at Cobham, but with every young footballer around the world with the desire to succeed in football."

Read: SportsPro


Social

Pro boxing can learn lessons from Tyson and Triller’s opportunism

Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any weirder, it turns out that worsening diplomatic relations between the United States and China have been a catalyst for one of the boxing pay-per-view events of the year: Mike Tyson v Roy Jones Jr. in an eight-round exhibition bout, with YouTuber Jake Paul facing retired NBA point guard Nate Robinson on the undercard. The event – entitled ‘Frontline Battle’ – is largely being financed by US-based video-sharing platform and TikTok competitor Triller, which has acquired title sponsorship rights, exclusive global streaming rights to the event, and the ability to sell linear pay-per-view rights in the United States.

Paul’s inclusion has also added significant value to Triller’s pay-per-view rights as he provides a hook to gain interest from younger fans more likely to use an app to access paid-for content. Older fans of Tyson and Jones Jr. will likely prefer to watch the fight via more traditional pay-per-view outlets such as cable and satellite operators – rights that Triller can sell separately. The event is shaping up to be a success for Legends Only League and Triller, but for all the above-ground work put into publicising the event, the most crucial element of the plan has largely gone unnoticed: Frontline Battle has the sport of boxing all to itself, thanks to struggles from other leaders in the space to get boxing back on TV.

Read: SportBusiness


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DEAL OF THE DAY

National Hockey League 50/50+ Sweepstakes presented by Honda to Benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Canada, August 15

The Details

The National Hockey League (NHL®) announced a one-day NHL 50/50+ Sweepstakes presented by Honda, Official Automotive Partner of the NHL, taking place Saturday, Aug. 15 to benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. On Aug. 15, hockey fans can go to NHL.com/5050sweeps to enter and donate, joining the NHL and Honda in supporting Boys and Girls Clubs across North America. The sweepstakes begins with a guaranteed total prize of $200,000 USD. Half will be won by one lucky fan, while the other $100,000 USD will go to Boys & Girls Clubs of America or Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, depending on the location of the winner’s residence. Fans can donate $10 to receive ten entries, $20 to receive 80 entries, or $40 to receive 200 entries.


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