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Intel’s Multi-Angle Cameras Change the Way to Watch Premier League

The True View feature allows fans of Man City, Liverpool and Arsenal to relive action from the players’ or an aerial perspective and in a 360-degree mode.

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Have you ever wanted to experience the moment Mo Salah buries a penalty in the net from his very own perspective or relive a wonderful crossfield pass from Kevin De Bruyne from a bird’s-eye view? Technology company Intel is offering supporters that opportunity now. In a cooperation with Arsenal London, Manchester City and Liverpool FC they will give viewers the chance to watch the action on the pitch in a fully immersive and innovative way. All the new camera angles will have the fans feeling as close to their beloved clubs as never before.

Intel’s True View starts in the Premier League next month

The imagination of experiencing defining moments in a match from not only various but the most close-to-the-pitch angles is certainly exciting for any supporter. Just think of watching Gareth Bale’s overhead kick in the Champions League final, which you could possibly perceive from his perspective up there in the air. Or what about studying England’s clever freekick variations at the World Cup from an areal view?

From March 10 on, fans in the Premier League can start watching football in a whole new way. Because Intel have struck a partnership with three of the league’s absolute top clubs: league leaders Liverpool, champions and chasers Manchester City and always attractive Arsenal London.

As a result of the deal, Intel’s True View technology will allow viewers to really immerse in the game. For now it’s only those three clubs using True View, but more shall follow. Hence, only games at Anfield, the Etihad or the Emirates will offer the viewing from such different angles.

These are the fascinating new options

As Intel do explain, one will have the opportunity to make use of three features, which will be available live and for all the post-match action and analysis on the clubs’ websites or in their respective apps. First of all, there’s the multi-angle view. It allows fans to recreate goals, tackles or saves in a 360-degree video via the innovative volumetric video process. Therefore, the viewer can see the very scenes from any possible angle and very sharply, too, as Intel uses 38 5K ultra-high-definition cameras.

Another – and probably the most fascinating – option is the be the player-view. For a moment in the match can be frozen and then the fans see it all from the eyes of a player. That’s immersive football viewing at its best. Furthermore, it could offer pundits or commentators completely new insights into how and possibly why a player makes a decision. Analysing mistakes or great bits of play will be much more revealing like this.

Finally, there’s a so-called laser wall. It enables a view from a virtual plane that provides a different perspective concerning the players’ positioning and tactical measures during a game.

How the system works

Intel is one of many companies investing more heavily in technology designed to strengthen sports experiences, especially in digital realms. In 2018, nearly one billion pound were spent in this area. Ever since the Hawk-Eye and VAR, football is becoming more and more of a technology-based experience.

With True View, Intel have created a great viewing alternative. The volumetric capture method has the 38 5K ultra-high-definition cameras recording footage including height, width and depth of data. Then, all these aspects are used to produce so-called voxels, which are basically pixels with volume. After that, modern Intel processors porecess the data and finally the viewpoints of a fully volumetric 3D person or object are created. The virtual environment is a powerful example of how digital realms merge with the development of football viewing.

Immersive media experiences continue to create more opportunities for sports teams and leagues to put the fan experience first,

comments James Carwana, vice president and general manager of Intel Sports.

Big clubs need to be embrancing technology

Watching football might be at some kind of turning point. OTT services like DAZN are taking over from traditional broadcasters, as they offer multi-screen viewing opportunities for example. Apart from that, the younger generations of fans are really Social Media-affine. For they are using Instagram, Twitter etc. while watching games, they go to YouTube for highlights and are used to expecting quick and cutting-edge content. That’s why big clubs, or actually any football club, should really anticipate and embrace the potential of different technological developments. Be it iBeacon technology like in TSG Hoffenheim’s stadium, Instagram as a medium for growth or AI solutions to generate and provide individualised real-time highlights.

Intel’s new solution has been adopted by three top clubs now – and more will probably follow. Because these clubs know about the importance of offering their millions of fans new entertainment options. Peter Silverstone, commercial director of Arsenal FC, says:

We are always looking to find new ways to bring our 780 million fans and followers around the world closer to the action and this partnership will give our fans a whole new view of the game. The technology effectively allows a supporter to step into the boots of players and see the game from their perspective. We have seen the impact this Intel technology has had in other sports leagues across the world and are excited that it will be installed at Emirates Stadium. At Arsenal we are committed to innovating and keeping at the forefront of developments on and off the pitch so it’s fitting that Emirates Stadium will be the first stadium to bring Intel’s immersive and transformational True View technology to the Premier League.

Meanhwile, Billy Hogan, managing director and chief commercial officer of Liverpool FC, is sure that True View “can significantly improve the supporter experience“ and will “add a new dynamic to how people interact with the game and create different conversations with our fans around the world“.

Jonathan Levene of Intel Sports
Jonathan Levene, managing director business development EMEA of Intel Sports, introduces True View for Premier League clubs, © Intel

Ultimately, Damian Willoughby, senior vice president of partnerships at City Football Group, outlined what is most important for the clubs:

We are sure City fans, and football fans around the world, will love watching beautiful football from every angle.

And more angles and perspectives will undoubtedly lead to not only more engagement and view time but also to more excitement for the fans, eventually. Besides, with more angles covered, advertisers will surely like the thought of engaged and fully immersed fans, who can see it all.

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Data & Tech

Wyscout: How to Revolutionise Scouting with Rich Video Data

Wyscout enables everyone in the football ecosystem to discover new talents, analyse team or player performances or learn about statistics using thousands of games, from any device, at any time. [Sponsored]

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Everyone, from the common football fan to the envious manager, is in awe when a new extraordinary talent arrives on the scene and convinces people of the old words: “If they’re good enough, they’re old enough“. Vinicius Jr. has set the world alight in a rather dismal season for Real Madrid, while Ajax’ captain Matthijs de Ligt, only 19 years old, has become the most sought-after defender in world football. But how do you recognise talent in a digitised world, where you can access hundreds of games or get insights from video footage? How do you find players, analyse performances carefully targeted and organise this analysis of rich insights from various perspectives? Wyscout offers professionals like agents, coaches, players, scouts or even journalists and referees the chance to make data-driven decisions from their mobile device or desktop, because they don’t just offer an enormous amount of stats, player profiles, video footage data or targeting options, but also a platform with constant updates that can be a starting point for any organisation, even betting companies or national teams.

Top clubs around the world are banking on Wyscout

It’s always testament to a solution or services, if they’re adopted by reknown leaders of the industry. That’s the case with Wyscout as clubs like Juventus Turin, Borussia Dortmund, the FC Porto or Real Madrid as well as Ajax Amsterdam, LA Galaxy, Tottenham Hotspur or Boca Juniors and even Guangzhou Evergrande trust their diversified offers.

Wyscout, selected by top clubs across the globe, © Wyscout

The big range of clubs from Germany to China or Argentina already underlines the international relevance and reputation of Wyscout’s services and solutions. But what exactly does the company have to offer? First of all, they give you a great opportunity to access video data, players’ performance data and numerous further insights digitally, but in an organised manner. That’s what their platform is there for. What’s even more remarkable, though, is that this access isn’t reserved to single parties in the football ecosystem or to a certain occupational group. Wyscout collects and edits data from football matches around the world for everyone, from the small team’s scout in League Two to the proven players’ agent or the data-interested manager. And if you do need up to date data in order to create new offers for your betting company or compile a list of promising talent as a journalist, you can trust Wyscout, too. They possess the widest football video archive in the world with over 2.000 new videos from games being uploaded every week. These videos are segmented into 2.000 easy to find and tagged video clips then.

Wyscout does analyse over 250 competitions a week, from the big leagues to harder to access youth competitions.

football video
Various opportunities to get data from any game, click to enlarge, © Wyscout

Great possibilities, by numbers and easily explained

To visualise the very many-faceted opportunities that are connected to Wyscout’s solutions, there are a lot of numbers to take into account. For instance, Wyscout generates video footage from 124 countries, and gets videos with data from 52 countries, while they cover 599 global competitions with 214 of those providing data and video coverage. Even more impressivly, they have 42.969 teams and counting on their platform with 460.036 player profiles on offer. More than 200.000 full matches with video analysis are on hand and around 1.800 are added each week.

The amount of video footage and football data in this specific context seems second to none. Yet, numbers alone are hard to digest. So, here’s a simple example of how to use such data. If you wondered who was the most efficient freekick taker in Europe’s top five leagues, Wyscout has an elaborated answer for journalists, but maybe scouts or agents as well.

And if you think that it’s more important to find players related to certain parameters, you can do so with Wyscout’s platform, too. For example, if you’re on the lookout for U21 goalkeepers from Europe’s top five leagues with a great save percentage.

These might be simple examples, but Wyscout’s solutions can be more complex. You can not only create custom playlists from the video footage available and share them, even with football players themselves, who can analyse their own performance like that. You’re also able to download all these clips and use them for customised analysis practices.

Additionally, you can use the advanced search, as shown with the goalkeeper example, and analyse or compare certain players, giving you the chance to unearth the next gem due to tangible data.

Compare players you have found, click to enlarge, © Wyscout

The specifically created Talent Center unifies data for thousands of up-and-coming promising youg players. And, of course, it’s possible to customise your own player lists in order to maybe set up a transfer list or a list for your scout to keep an eye on. Such oragnised data can also be a great addition for managers of national teams and under age national team groups. The Wyscout professional reports offer you all the relevant data in a way that’s visually easy to classify.

Get an overview full of insights for any interesting player, click to enlarge, © Wyscout

The different usage scenarios for Wyscout’s platform are demonstrated in a video, which in cooperation with Tifo Football explains the functions.

Wyscout’s for everyone – and everywhere

Since it’s extremely important for digital solution providers to focus the mobile accessibilty, Wyscout were well advised to offer their own services via app.

Thanks to that, managers or scouts, journalists or agents can check on players, stats or specific aspects of any game on the go. Which is increasingly important in an industry that’s very much a moving one, on different levels. Wyscout can help football players optimise their game, is an option for scouts in order to find the best possible talent available due to data-driven decisions and provides so much information for so many occupations. Thus, it’s fair to say that Wyscout does not only merge the digital and the lifelike football worlds for any possible user in a rather democratic way, but is a modern analysis platform that makes a deeper understanding of football possible.

The diversified users can choose from different packages and products as they use Wyscout to up their game, from whatever perspective.

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Data & Tech

All in one – SAP Sports One revolutioniert die Fußballwelt

Mit SAP Sports One® soll ein neues Standard-Tool für Fußballvereine etabliert werden, das die Vernetzung innerhalb der einzelnen Arbeitsbereiche verbessert. [sponsored]

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In modernen Fußballvereinen arbeiten viele verschiedene Personen in unterschiedlichen Bereichen, vom Scouting über die Leistungsdiagnostik bis zur Sportmedizin. In all diesen und noch vielen weiteren Bereichen fallen tagtäglich jede Menge Daten an, die verarbeitet werden müssen. Aktuell geschieht dies bei den meisten Fußballvereinen noch separat, mit eigenen Softwarelösungen in den einzelnen Bereichen. Doch genau diese Problematik wird jetzt durch die Anwendung SAP Sports One® gelöst.

Alle auf dem neuesten Stand

Weg von Insellösungen, die unabhängig voneinander operieren, hin zu einer Plattform, die alles vereint und die unterschiedlichen Vereinsbereiche miteinander verbindet. In SAP Sports One werden beispielsweise Daten über aktuelle Verletzungen eines Spielers durch die Medizinabteilung gesammelt und können dann vom Trainer und seinem Trainerteam eingesehen werden. Dadurch sind alle immer auf dem neuesten Stand. Der Trainer weiß genau, wann er wieder mit seinem Spieler planen kann und welche Intensität z.B. das nächste Training haben darf.

Außerdem haben die Spieler selbst die Möglichkeit, Informationen über ihren Zustand über die SAP Sports One App zu teilen. So wird das Bild über einen Spieler immer weiter vervollständigt. Besonders hilfreich für alle Beteiligten ist, dass die Nutzung von SAP Sports One sehr simpel ist. Achim Ittner, Global Business Development Director Sports von SAP, beschreibt die Nutzung als ähnlich einfach, wie einen Einkauf bei Amazon.

Jeder kann es nutzen

Diese Einfachheit ermöglicht den Trainern, wichtige Informationen innerhalb kürzester Zeit direkt an ihre Spieler weiterzugeben. Findet vor einem Spiel eine Videoanalyse statt, kann der Trainer direkt danach die Ergebnisse der Analyse auf die Handys seiner Spieler schicken.

Neben der einfachen Bedienung ist die Anwendung keinesfalls Bundesligaexklusiv. Auch kleinere Klubs aus niedrigeren Ligen, wie zum Beispiel der SSV Ulm, nutzen es bereits und auch die dortigen Verantworltichen sind sehr zufrieden. Diese Nutzung unabhängig von der Spielklasse ermöglicht es aufstrebenden Trainern schneller im Profifußball Fuß zu fassen. Denn durch SAP Sports One arbeitet ein junger Trainer aus der Regionalliga mit derselben IT-Lösung wie der erfahrene Bundesligatrainer und muss sich bei einem eventuellen Wechsel an keine neue Technologie gewöhnen.

Das MS Office des Fußballs

Die Vision von SAP ist es, mit SAP Sports One eine Plattform zu schaffen, die Standard für Fußballvereine ist. So wie es Microsoft Office mit Bürosoftwares geschafft hat. In der Bundesliga ist das Unternehmen auf dem besten Weg dahin. Viele Vereine nutzen das System bereits und dies auch mit sichtlichem Erfolg. Unter den Top 10 Vereinen mit den höchsten Transfererlösen der Bundesliga, waren im Sommer acht Vereine, die SAP Sports One nutzen. Hier zeigt sich eine große Stärke der Technologie. Gerade Ausbildervereine haben durch die gesammelten Daten neue Möglichkeiten, ihre Spieler gezielt zu entwickeln und so das größte Potenzial aus ihnen herauszuholen.

Ein weiterer großer Vorteil für die Vereine ist, dass bei einem Trainerwechsel nicht das ganze Wissen verloren geht. Im immer schnelllebigeren Fußballgeschäft kann auch während einer Saison der Trainer gewechselt werden. Früher nahm der Trainer bei einem Wechsel sein Wissen mit. Der Nachfolger musste quasi bei Null beginnen. Mit Hilfe von SAP Sports One werden dem neuen Trainer alle wichtigen Informationen über die Mannschaft präsentiert und er kann analysieren, wo in der Vergangenheit Fehler gemacht wurden.

Die Digitalisierung hält im Fußball immer mehr Einzug. Um wettbewerbsfähig zu bleiben, müssen Vereine immer die neuste Technik in ihre tägliche Arbeit integrieren. Die TSG Hoffenheim ist in diesem Gebiet mit dem „Interactive Data-Space“ von SAP (siehe Video) noch einen Schritt weiter. So oder so ähnlich könnte die Vereinsarbeit der Zukunft aussehen. Mit SAP Sports One können Fußballvereine in allen Ligen schon heute ihre Arbeitsprozesse optimieren und ihre Daten im Google des Fußballs vereinen.

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Data & Tech

SoccerBot360 – kognitives Fußballtraining der Zukunft

Der SoccerBot360 hebt kognitives Training in professionellen Fußballvereinen auf ein neues Niveau und unterstützt viele weitere Arbeitsbereiche im Fußball. [sponsored]

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Das Training von Profiklubs im Fußball scheint vollkommen zu sein. Die neuesten trainingswissenschaftlichen Erkenntnisse werden von renommierten Sportwissenschaftlern und erfolgreichen Trainern Woche für Woche an die Mannschaften weitergegeben. In dieses sehr komplexe und hochpreisige Umfeld als externes Unternehmen eine Innovation einzubringen, ist nahezu unmöglich. Der SoccerBot360 von der Umbrella Software Development GmbH hat trotzdem genau das geschafft.

Vernachlässigte Fähigkeiten im Fußball

Das in Leipzig ansässige Unternehmen hat sich Gedanken darüber gemacht, in welchen Bereichen im Fußball noch wirkliches Verbesserungspotenzial steckt. Als enorm wichtig, aber im täglichen Training unterrepräsentiert,
wurden dabei die kognitiven Prozesse – also das Entscheidungsverhalten der Spieler – ausgemacht. Der moderne Fußball wird immer schneller und kurze Ballhaltezeiten immer wichtiger. Die Spieler müssen innerhalb weniger Augenblicke den Ball verarbeiten, das Spielfeld überblicken und wichtige Entscheidungen treffen.

„Wir bekommen aus der Fußball-Praxis und der Sportwissenschaft fortlaufend neuen Input, welche Trainingsinhalte den Funktionsumfang des SoccerBot360 zukünftig erweitern können.“

Daniel Held, CEO und Erfinder des SoccerBot360

Genau diese Prozesse und damit die zugrunde liegenden Fähigkeiten, werden mit dem SoccerBot360 gezielt trainiert. Die Spieler sind von einer virtuellen 360° Welt umgeben, auf der per Beamer verschiedenste Projektionen möglich sind. Mit dem Ball am Fuß müssen die Spieler unterschiedliche Aufgaben absolvieren, deren Darstellung von kleinen videospieleähnlichen Modi, bis hin zu animierten Rekonstruktionen realer Spielsituationen aus der Bundesliga reicht.

Durch die Aufgaben, die möglichst schnell und präzise zu lösen sind, werden unter anderem die Antizipationsfähigkeit und die exekutiven Funktionen, unter fußballtypischen Bedingungen, verbessert. Außerdem findet nebenbei eine ständige Automatisierung der Ballmitnahme, des Aufdrehens, des Flachpasses und vielem mehr statt. Demnach werden auch technische Trainingsziele im SoccerBot abgedeckt. Die Trainingsmodes können dabei so variiert werden, dass beispielsweise Fähigkeiten wie das periphere Sehen explizit geschult werden.

Außerdem ermöglicht der SoccerBot den Vereinen, ihre Talente gezielt in bestimmten Fähigkeiten zu trainieren und dadurch ihr volles Potenzial auszuschöpfen, was gerade für Ausbildervereine zu satten Transfergewinnen führen kann.

Neue Möglichkeiten der Videoanalyse

Gerade die Videoanalyse profitiert aufgrund der zahlreichen Darstellungsmöglichkeiten im SoccerBot. So bedeutet eine auf dem SoccerBot basierte Videoanalyse kein reines auf den Fernseher schauen und Dinge vom Trainer erklärt bekommen. Stattdessen befinden sich die Spieler mitten in der analysierten Spielsituation und können mit dem Ball die Anweisungen des Trainers ausführen. Entscheidend kann diese neue Technik auch für Spielertransfers sein, da neue Spieler das Spielsystem einer Mannschaft auf diese Art und Weise wesentlich intensiver kennenlernen.

Unterstützung für die Scouts

Der SoccerBot kann bei Spielertransfers noch auf einer ganz anderen Ebene hilfreich sein. Die Transferstrategien von Fußballvereinen basieren seit einigen Jahren immer mehr auf Datenanalysen. Es werden überall auf der Welt zahlreiche Daten über Fußballspieler erhoben und diese helfen den Scouts von heute dabei, den idealen Spieler für ihren Verein zu finden. Doch sind Daten über die kognitiven Fähigkeiten eines Fußballers momentan noch eher selten, da diese wesentlich schwieriger zu erheben sind.

Der SoccerBot kann diese Wissenslücke der Vereine schließen. Mithilfe der Technologie lassen sich fundierte Daten über einzelne Spieler erstellen und diese werden im eigenen Diagnostik-Baukasten „SoccerBench“ den Scouts zur Verfügung gestellt. Dadurch soll es in Zukunft etwas einfacher werden, die besten unter den sehr guten Spielern zu finden.

„Sie haben sehr viel Spaß darin [im SoccerBot360 Anm.d.R.], sowohl die Profis als auch die Jugendspieler, so dass man sie schon fast raus kommandieren muss.“

Ralf Rangnick

Spaß für die Spieler

Auch das Fußballtraining der Zukunft wird weiterhin auf dem Platz mit echten Mitspielern und ohne Projektionen stattfinden, aber der SoccerBot stellt eine sinnvolle Ergänzung zum traditionellen Training dar. Vereine wie RB Leipzig oder FC Salzburg nutzen den SoccerBot bereits im täglichen Training, in der Spielanalyse, im Scouting und sogar in der Reha. Vermutlich werden in Zukunft viele weitere Vereine die Vorzüge der neuen Technik erkennen und ihren Spielern diesen Spaß nicht vorenthalten. Denn das ist nach den Trainingserfolgen wahrscheinlich das wichtigste: den Spielern macht das Training im SoccerBot großen Spaß.

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Zone7: Time to Prevent Injuries with AI and Big Data

Injuries or fatigue are factors that can cost clubs a lot, both financially and in terms of reaching their targets on the pitch. Zone7 helps prevent those thanks to data- and AI-driven performance measurement. [Sponsored]

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How often do you see it, a player holding his hamstring, signalling that he just can’t go on? Depending on how severe the injury is, players will miss weeks or maybe even months of action. Ousmane Dembélé couldn’t help his team from Barcelona in the CL semi-final return leg as they were incredibly beaten 4:0 by Liverpool. Or take Newcastle United, who had just made Miguel Almirón their record signing in January, only for him to sustain a hamstring injury in April, which ruled him out for the rest of the season. The fate is shared by Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey, who will therefore not only miss a nice send-off before his free transfer to Juve, but also be unable to play in next week’s Europa League final – which might also have an impact on their biggest game of the season. What if you could not only make decisions for injured players during the game, but also prevent them from being sidelined at all, based on tons of data and AI algorithms?

Injury prevention on another level

It may cost clubs a pretty penny, if their star players – or any player – get injured. It may be during the season’s run-in, ahead of the World Cup or in the run-up to pre-marketed friendlies, for which tickets need to be sold. While injuries are bad to clubs and for managers, football teams do have the players to compensate; just not always on the same level. For individuals, though, injuries can be much more of a personal catastrophe. They could miss out on the World Cup or the Champions League final. Furthermore, they could be denied bonuses for goals scored or games started and such existentially important matters like contract extensions or transfers to another club might be jeopardised by injuries. Just think of players, who are known to be “injury-prone“. Even if they perform well, suitors could be looking for alternatives.

There are hundreds of reasons why injury prevention is so important. And its importance grows with the number of games in the modern game and the successively increasing intensity. That’s why Zone7 does immerse into injury prevention. The company takes into account 5 million hours of human performances in sports and operates with AI patterns in order to identify break points or potential problems for the players and athletes. Their evidentially accurate system reduces injury days out by an astonishing 75 per cent, while injury rates themselves drop by 70 per cent.

The advantages of the Zone7 system

Zone7 supports clients, who play in the MLS, La Liga or the Champions League and also keep MLB players from being out of action. As of TechCrunch, the company this year raised 2,5 million US dollars in a seed round.

Their system is based on data and AI-powered recognition, so therefore up to date by default. It’s easy to use, since data can be generated via wearables or video technology. And the analysis of millions of data points enables medicals or even managers to make decisions for their training schedules or on the pitch, too. Moreover, these decision can be tailored for every athlete and thereby offer the chance to prevent injuries and optimise individual training practice.

How Zone7 works in a nutshell, © Zone7

Injury detection and prevention will be high on every club’s medical agenda and is just as important for any and all individual athletes. So, using Zone7 should be considered in order to minimise risks and maximise performance levels – and eventually even the profit. To show you the benefits of the systems in different kinds of situations, we spoke to CEO and Co-founder Tal Brown – founder of Salesforce’s first AI team by the way –, who is just the person to explain and highlight these.

The interview

Spielmacher: Injuries do cost clubs and players playing time and real money, too. Can a more holistic prevention system be a boost for financial resources as well?

Tal Brown: Yes absolutely. The financial benefits of reducing injuries are first and foremost direct in that fewer injuries immediately translate to reduced medical costs. However, many studies show that reduced injuries are strongly correlated with winning and that translates to additional revenue from tickets, endorsements and in some cases – revenues from broadcasting and the league prize money. A good example is Getafe, who are having an extremely successful season (#5 in La Liga, lowest budget, dramatically over-performing vs their budget). One of the financial benefits of such a season is participation in either the UEFA Europa League or the Champions League, estimated to generate a dramatic increase in revenue.

Spielmacher: Fitness coaches, the medical team etc. are there to minimise the injury risks for the club’s players. What’s the unique additional value that Zone7 can offer them in order to do so?

Tal Brown: Zone7 offers two key things: first – we help the medical staff dramatically reduce the amount of time spent on reviewing data. The process of looking at performance, medical and health data every day for 25 players in a squad, and using this data to identify risk and optimal workload is lengthy, so we help complete this much quicker. Also, Zone7 offers accuracy. The mathematical/Artificial Intelligence process we use to estimate risk and identify optimal workload for each player is based on millions of football games and training sessions. This process is statistically quantified to determine accuracy and we ensure this accuracy is continuously improving as we learn from more teams and real-life data.

Spielmacher: The use of AI technology personalised the monitoring to a greater extent. Does that offer the opportunity to react more individually and could reoccurring injury problems be reduced eventually?

Tal Brown: Yes, we believe that the most effective intervention is 100 per cent personalised and must be tailored to each athlete’s performance history, medical profile and any additional attributes. A key part of this is the athlete’s injury history that is taken into consideration with every risk and recommendation, so while we cannot guarantee to eliminate recurring injuries, we are seeing that Zone7’s technology is helping older and more injury-prone players to increase their availability and stay longer at a peak physical condition.

Spielmacher: To what extent can training practices be aligned to data, which give a picture of the players’ health and fitness conditions?

Tal Brown: In training, workload and the effort invested by players can be controlled. This control has always been used to accomplish both tactical goals (e.g. learning/improving in a specific football strategy) and fitness related goals (being better prepared physically for the upcoming game). Rehabilitation is also a good example where the health and physical condition of the player determine the level of effort and the progression of their effort to ensure a safe return from injury into maximum form.

Zone7’s technology allows the technical staff of a football team to break down the player’s current physical condition into fine-grained parameters to understand what kind of medical, biomechanical and workload parameters (sprints, overall distances, accelerations, decelerations, etc.) is currently contributing to risk. The second step is to use Zone7 to define optimal ranges for each workload parameter for each player daily. This approach allows players to train, improve performance levels, but avoid aggravating their current risk factors that will likely lead to injury.

Spielmacher: The AI-powered system of Zone7 works with comparative data. How many matching data sets can be used to develop predictions for a single player for example?

Tal Brown: First, the term prediction should be well-defined: Zone7 does not predict the exact moment physical mechanism of an injury. Instead, Zone7 calculates the Injury Risk Forecast over a period of several days, typically over the days proceeding a match.

Overall, Zone7 has analyzed over 5 million games and training sessions and thousands of injuries. This data is used to create a multi-layered model that is customised for an individual player but can also rely on data from similar players in similar leagues.

Spielmacher: You are able to reduce injury days out by 75, injury rates by 70 percent. Could you give an example of a player or club profiting from that recently?

Tal Brown: Yes, one of our earliest adopters is Getafe CF, currently #5 in La Liga. This team has the 17th highest budget in La Liga, yet in the past two seasons since coming up from the second league have been over-performing dramatically. In addition, Getafe have one of the lowest injury rates in the league.

Interestingly, Getafe has a relatively old squad and yet their injury rates with Zone7 have reduced by 65 per cent. Individual examples should be taken lightly when examining AI products, but such example could be Mathieu Flamini, who, at the age of 35, came into Getafe after playing for top tier European clubs, where he sustained 13 injuries over the previous seasons. This season in Getafe, he has sustained no injuries at Getafe and has had nearly 100 per cent availability.

Spielmacher: Your system works via video or wearables. The latter aren’t common in football, so will video analysis be the main factor there? And could such an analysis prevent players from continuing with a concussion or a hamstring problem rather quickly to prevent further damage?

Tal Brown: Zone7 requires performance data to compute the player workload, injury risk and optimal training levels. The data can be collected through wearables (using GPS, accelerometer, etc.) or through video systems that are becoming more accurate in this respect. Already today, many of our customers provide us with game-day data from video/broadcasting systems instead of GPS.

Until today, Zone7 has helped coaches make unbiased decisions with regards to training load and match load. As more real-time data becomes available (through video as well as the next generation of wearables) then our role can potentially grow into minute-by-minute insights to coaches. Ultimately, the coach is responsible for the team’s results and overall performance and he is the expert for that job. We strive to make health/performance data be available in an easily understood manner so unbiased decisions can be made.

Spielmacher: Could the use of AI technology not only prevent injuries but also improve performance levels in the long term?

Tal Brown: Yes, absolutely. Our strategy is to use AI to help athletes reach their goals. In the professional environment, one key goal is to reduce injuries hence we “teach” our AI platform to provide insights that help achieve this goal. Over time, other goals like reaching specific performance levels can also be a part of the same process. A good example for this is long distance running, where many runners have a specific goal in mind for a race – for example running a marathon in under 3 hours. AI can be used to define the day-to-day training leading to such an event to ensure minimal injury risk while pushing the runner forward to reach his/her goal.

Spielmacher: Do you believe that data driven injury prevention and health care in sports is an essential step towards long term success? Can clubs afford to not take advantage of it at all?

Tal Brown: The club’s ultimate goal is to win more. For some clubs, this means a championship every year, and for others, it means simply over-performing vs their budget. Winning translates to growth in both direct revenues and indirect revenues that further fuel winning in the next year. From a pure data perspective, reduced injury rates are strongly correlated with winning because having the best (and most cohesive) squad available for more days means the team has higher chances of winning more games.

I believe that the medical and performance staff in clubs are going through a major revolution. Today tools are available to visualise and create meaning from data, and so decisions can be more objective through repeatable scientific (and validated) processes/computations. As with other aspects in medicine, coaching and professional sports in general, the expert will always be the one making the decisions, but now there is more science that can support these experts with objective decision-making tools. This will undoubtedly lead to fewer injuries, more availability and more success.

Spielmacher: Is your system rather made for professional sportspersons or equally useful and necessary for semi-pro and other levels?

Tal Brown: Our mission is to help athletes reach their goals while remaining injury free. This is applicable to professional athletes as well as semi-pros and lifestyle athletes. However, Zone7 creates value from data, and so we rely on data to deliver. In professional environments, the data needed (e.g. performance, medical records) is available more consistently and accurately than in other markets. However, over time we are bringing our technology to other environments both in the professional sports (like baseball and basketball) and semi-professional: we are working with hundreds of amateur runners preparing for half and full marathons.

Spielmacher: Has the awareness regarding the need for optimised supervision of the athletes’ health grown in recent years?

Tal Brown: Yes, while supervising the athlete’s health will always remain an internal process driven by medical professionals inside clubs, we see more awareness and more openness to evaluate tools to support the internal decision process. Traditionally these tools have been designed to collect data and visualise data, but are now expanding to tools (like Zone7) that can unveil the valuable meaning within the data or provide an objective and validated calculation for risk and optimised performance levels.

Spielmacher: How can you ensure to keep the sensible data concerning athletes’ health safe? Can data breaches, which could have an impact on players’ developments, be ruled out?

Tal Brown: We use security measures that are equivalent to healthcare standards to ensure the data is safe. These include end to end encryption, advanced authentication methods and of course strict control on data access both for our employees and our users.

Also, as dictated by GDPR, our customers own their data, so they have complete control on what is available and for how long.

While breaches cannot be 100 per cent avoided, we invest heavily to ensure the data security. It’s important to note that already today, many products used by teams (e.g. AMS, wearables) manage sensitive data in the cloud successfully so this is already a common practice in many environments.

Spielmacher: From your personal opinion, will AI only enrich the sports ecosystem or actually take some of its precious unpredictability, too?

Tal Brown: I personally do not think that AI will make the sport more predictable. The human brain, operating in high-speed, reacting to a thousand changing factors in a game that are detected through eyes and ears is and will always remain unpredictable. However, I think the ultimate sport experience will be better because we can eliminate (or at least reduce) some factors that negatively impact the fantastic “drama” that everyone loves to follow. One obvious example is the ability to keep the best players on the stage.


Thanks so much for the interview, Tal. Whoever wants to reduce injury rates or days out to not only save money but strengthen the players’ and athletes’ health sould definitely considers using the very contemporary solutions of Zone7, based on AI and supported by an enormous amount of data.

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Data & Tech

Ein ganz neues Erlebnis – Stadionbesuch in der digitalisierten Fußballwelt

Die Digitalisierung macht auch vor dem Fußballgeschäft nicht halt. Innovative Unternehmen wie Venue Manager helfen dabei, die neuen Möglichkeiten zu nutzen. [sponsored]

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Das Ticket ist auf dem Smartphone. Ohne in einer Schlange anzustehen geht man direkt zur Sicherheitskontrolle und ist innerhalb kürzester Zeit im Stadion. Während des Spiels knurrt der Magen und man ordert per App die Bratwurst und das Bier für die Fast Lane oder direkt an den Sitzplatz. Nach dem Spiel kann spieltagbezogenes Merchandise des Lieblingsvereins bestellt und vor Ort abgeholt werden.

So könnte der Stadionbesuch der Zukunft aussehen. Die Digitalisierung macht es möglich und sie bietet unglaublich viele neue Möglichkeiten für Vereine, Fans und Sponsoren. Venue Manager A/S bietet Vereinen schon heute die Chance diese Möglichkeiten auszuschöpfen.

Holland und Dänemark als Vorbilder

In Holland und Dänemark ist die Digitalisierung im Fußball bereits wesentlich weiter voran geschritten, als in Deutschland. Der Ticketverkauf findet fast ausschließlich online statt. Nur ca. 10% der Tickets werden noch vor Ort an der Tageskasse verkauft und das Entscheidende ist, dass die Ticketshops von den Vereinen selbst geführt werden.

In Deutschland hat Fortuna Köln diesen wichtigen Schritt weg von externen Ticketverkaufsplattformen, hin zum eigenen Onlineshop in der letzten Saison mit großem Erfolg gewagt. Gerade die Fans profitieren von diesen Änderungen, da die Gebühren für die Drittanbieter wegfallen. So können die Ticketpreise gesenkt oder der Service für die Fans erhöht werden.

„Wenn die Clubs die Kontrolle über den Ticketverkauf selbst übernehmen, können sie die „Gebühren“ selbst festlegen und einnehmen. Das eingesparte Geld für die Zahlung der „Gebühren“ an die traditionellen Ticketanbieter kann genutzt werden, um die Ticketpreise zu senken, den Service für die Fans zu erhöhen oder in modernes Marketing zu investieren, um ein größeres Publikum anzusprechen und zu gewinnen.“

Venue Manager

Als enorm wichtig für die Umsetzung der neuen Digitalisierung Strategien bezeichnet Venue Manager den gleichzeitigen Ausbau der Stadien. Denn der Fast-Track-Verkauf einer Bratwurst kann nur dann funktionieren, wenn auch eine Fast-Track-Abholung ermöglicht wird. Auch die Bratwurst und das Bier, die direkt an den Platz gebracht werden, brauchen ein geeignetes Stadion und genügend Personal.

Neben diesen großen Vorteilen für Fans und Vereine, können durch neue Technologien wie die von Venue Manager immer mehr sinnvolle Daten erhoben werden. Das macht es möglich zukunftsweisende Entscheidungen, nicht mehr nur auf Gefühle zu basieren, sondern mit Fakten zu untermauern. Außerdem können dadurch personalisierte Angebote an die Fans verschickt werden, die ihnen das Gefühl geben, ein VIP zu sein und somit die Fanbindung erhöhen.

Positiv überraschte Fans

Diese neuen Angebote und Möglichkeiten für die Fans werden in Dänemark und Holland sehr gut angenommen. Auch wenn zunächst Proteste gegen die Digitalisierungsmaßnahmen aufkamen, konnten diese sehr schnell gelöst werden, indem die Vereine den Fans den Nutzen der neuen Technologie erklärten. Selbst die ältere Generation konnte sich mit den Neuerungen anfreunden, da auch sie die positiven Entwicklungen erkannten.

„Viele Menschen – auch Ältere – haben heutzutage ein Smartphone. Ihnen zu helfen, es in Bezug auf den Club zu benutzen, könnte als ein zusätzlicher Service angesehen werden, der mehr Loyalität gegenüber dem Club vermitteln kann.“

Venue Manager

Der größte Vorteil der Zusammenarbeit mit Venue Manager ist, dass Fans und Vereine nur noch eine App nutzen müssen, in der alles vereint wird. Die Kommunikation mit den Fans wird so um einiges einfacher. Angebote, Gutscheine, Veranstaltungsbenachrichtigungen, usw. – alles kann personalisiert an die Fans verschickt werden, um so das Erlebnis für den Fan, die Gewinne für den Verein und die Reichweite der Sponsoren am besten zu gestalten und allen den größten Mehrwert zu bieten.

Ein Stadionbesuch wird auch in Zukunft noch ohne Smartphone möglich sein. Doch wird es wahrscheinlich wesentlich schwieriger und zeitaufwändiger. Die Fußballvereine in Deutschland müssen die Zeichen der Zeit erkennen und ihr Angebot der Digitalisierung anpassen. Denn alles, was das Erlebnis der Fans verbessert, ist gut für den Verein.

Über Venue Manager A/S:

Venue Manager A/S ist mehrfach ausgezeichneter, dänischer e-commerce Marktführer im Sport- und Event Bereich.

Venue Manager bietet eine digitale, modulare, gehostete SaaS Plattform für Sport– und Event Management. Die Module im B2B und B2C Bereich umfassen: Ticketing (inkl. Eintrittskontrolle), Sponsorship Management, Merchandising, bargeldlose Public Catering Abwicklung, sowie ein eigenes CRM Tool – und das ALLES auch als App! www.venuemamager.de

Venue Manager A/S

Basler Strasse 10

60329 Frankfurt am Main

Pressekontakt Venue Manager: Patric Breuer, M +49 1761 9927700, info@venuemanager.de

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Blockchain Collectibles Gather Pace as Real Madrid and BVB Join SWAP

Fantastec’s blockchain-powered solution SWAP offers fans the chance to get digital collectibles like autographs or player cards. Now Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund join Arsenal.

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As fans turn to their mobile devices ever so often, they are always looking for more interactive ways to get in touch with their beloved clubs. Some even like to collect club branded stuff – apart from the kits maybe –, which is why Panini’s sticker albums worked so well for so long. However, in the digital age, such passions are tranferred into digital spheres. And that’s why Fantastec offer their SWAP app to bring supporters exclusive video content, original autographs from their favourite players or collectible cards that can be exachanged. After Arsenal London, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid bank on the blockchain-supported app in order to grow in-app revenue and interactive fan engagement at the same time.

SWAP offers revenue and an interesting prospect for fans

Social Media and digital pioneers Arsenal were the first to sign up with Fantastec to appear in their SWAP app. Now we’ve got Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid following suit – and possibly many more clubs in the future. For this app, based on forward-thinking blockchain technology, does have the fitting mix of traditional football fans’ desires and modern clubs’ demands for both digital and economical growth. Speaking to SportsPro Media, Fantastec’s product development partner Simon Woolard said:

We have good connections and wide-ranging experience which has helped us build solid and valued relationships with clubs and organisations across the world.

More top clubs are joining SWAP, © Fantastec SWAP

For now, Fantastec SWAP only has the licences for these three clubs, albeit European heavyweights. While it’s still starting to grow, the app is quite unique. For it offers fans the chance to own, collect and trade items like player cards with authentic autopgraphs and – maybe more important today – exclusive video content. Possibly, it might bring a reminiscence of collecting physical player cards or stickers, which hasn’t been a thing of the past just yet.

Additionally, the secure blockchain technology behind it is there to make sure that there will be no data breach and no false content or what have you.

Our blockchain technology means complete trust in every swap. No more fake autographs or cards. Fair and fun!

The collectibles could start to offer real value for fans

What’s even more interesting for the fans is the fact that all these rather innovative collectibles could not only turn out to be an amusing pastime alone, but a rather valuable passion, too. Because, from the 2019/20 season on, any trophy you earn in the game, which can be competitive as well, can be turned into points which then again enable a player to redeem them for club store discounts or the opportunity to take part in unique club experiences or special SWAP competitions. Furthermore, these first collectible items from Real, Arsenal or Borussia Dortmund might become quite precious, since the represent the first version of these items and also offer players, who will be somewhere else in the future – which would therefore make their player cards more rare. Fantastec editor Lee Astley even thinks an Aaron Ramsey player card from SWAP could really be a worthwile asset, since he will be going to Juve come the end of the campaign.

Notably, the collectibles are not limited to men’s player cards. When Arsenal just launched their away shirt collection in SWAP, the women’s team also provided their presence.

There are always new features for the young SWAP app. And if Social Media experts like those from Arsenal or Real Madrid believe in the advantages of the app, a lot of other clubs might follow. The whole system of swapping collectibles often to gain more content and more exlusives as well as new player cards and autographs should ensure that there’ll be movement amongst the users everytime.

The SWAP system, © Fantastec SWAP

Right now the app has only over a thousand downloads in the Google Play Store and SWAP only a few hundred followers on Twitter for example. That could change, though, if more teams join the app and if those big clubs advertise the app and integrate it into their Social Media offering for fans. In-app purchases, which range from just over one to more than 30 Euro at the moment, would be another good revenue stream for the app and the licensing clubs. Only, it has to grow more prominent soon to become a success. The concept behind it is compelling, now it needs a nudge in the right direction. And then we’ll see whether one can transfer the collectible culture into a digital universe with blockchain technology. For the MLB, it has worked – the football culture, especially in Europe, is different and it will test the fans’ willingness to embrace football fandom on another level. Thankfully, a good app seems to tease if not all, still a whole lot of those milllions of fans.

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Gaming’s the Next Goldmine – And You Can Measure It

The gaming industry has become central to big brands and football clubs alike. Everyone wants a share of the pie. Yet, the value of eSports sponsorships has to be measured sophisticatedly.

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We’ve heard it before: gaming is the future for brands, in terms of sports, for marketers and what have you. And you can underline that assumption with many statistics. But the sheer acknowledgement of popular gaming stars in today’s media and society is probably the best sign of the changing times. A digital and electronic world was always going to have electronic sports as a treat for people who love to play and to watch it. The importance of gaming for our understanding of sports and sports marketing is there to see, since we can draw on measurement tools and differentiated insights from Media Chain, Twitch and their partners.

Ninja as a marketing maestro: Red Bull can and a million for streaming a new game

One of those popular players is Ninja alias Tyler Blevins. His YouTube channel alone has 21 million subscribers, on Instagram there are another 13,4 million followers. He is amongst the best Fortnite players on the planet and is Twitch’s number one streamer. Thousands of people watch his streams – and that has made brands interested long ago. We take Ninja as an example, because he was paid a staggering million US dollar just to stream EA’s Apex Legends and thereby promote it, as reported by Reuters. Furthermore, he will now be on a limited edition of Red Bull cans, while underwear in cooperation with PSD is also available.

Yet, Red Bull is a major player in the sports world and that collaboration shows again why eSports stars are central to big marketing goals.

While success with Ninja’s face is nearly a given for partner brands, other marketing sections might be more careful. As they want more metrics and assurances, Twitch could provide them with important insights thanks to a partnership with MVPindex from the US. For the company now offers a platform to value branded content and measure engagement data. The value of sponsorships with established leagues, gamers, teams or tournaments shall be exposed on the basis of data.

MVPindex can now measure streams and video-on-demand (VOD) files, as well as value hours watched, concurrent views, and lifetime follower and viewer growth within specific streams.

With the help of AI and speech processing technology, solutions like the Engagement Value Assessment™ (EVA) and new Attributed Valuation Assessment™ (AVA) methodologies are bound to optimise the measurement of the engagement generated in the context of eSports. Stan Woodward, CEO of MVPindex, explains:

Historically, it’s been really tough for brands and agencies to value esports sponsorships because the majority of value is on digital and social, rather than traditional media and on-site activations. That’s why we wanted to bring our proven expertise to the esports industry and offer properties and brands a trusted currency for valuing their sponsorships. The partnership with Twitch is a game-changer for us and for the industry.

And such measurement opportunities like this one on Twitch give brands and marketers something of a safeguard, if they consider tapping into eSports. Drawing up a budget for eSports cooperations – even with lesser known entities – or convincing team members in marketing will be much easier with solutions like these.

Gamers are a good audience for marketing plans

Media Chain has also taken a closer look at the gaming industry. Which means they made a study in the UK, with 1775 people from gaming communities taking part as respondents. The introduction outlines a problem for marketing deciders:

Many brands find it challenging to navigate these audiences due to the cognitive and emotional distance between gaming culture and their marketing teams. Many marketers are guilty of lazily clustering gamers under one banner, creating unsuccessful campaigns built on basic and ineffective insights.

That’s why Media Chain provide us with a few very interesting statistics, based on the UK respondents, though. First of all, they’ve created different kinds of gaming types, like the young, the mature, the hardcore gamer – who spends more than 20 hours gaming per week – or the role-playing and the sports gamer. As they’re all different, they need to be addressed differently, too.

What the study found, for example, is that core gamers, who play like twelve hours a week, are 50 per cent more likely to spend more on quality clothes, food and media compared to the casual gamers, who play less than five hours a week. You can see a pattern there, which might be used for campaigns in advertising. It won’t be a surprise that Gen Z gamers and digital natives prefer digital to physical goods mostly, but it’s certainly interesting that 42 per cent of young gamers (34 years of age or younger) also watch at least ten hours of gaming a week. Thus, the potential to reach them in streams from well-known players is there to see. Especially, if you consider that gamers trust fellow gamers’ opinions. “64 per cent of young gamers and 51 per cent of mature gamers trust other gamers opinions first“. While gamers are unsurprisingly keen on Social Media news and content, they are critical, if brands aren’t authentic with their advertising apporaches. 55 per cent of all gamers stated they have seen ads for products and services that are not relevant to them.

So, better targeting needs to be integrated for the eSports marketing scheme. In the UK, between 2016 and 2018 alone, brands’ total Facebook sponsorship spend with UK gaming page partners has increased by 164 per cent, as per Media Chain. To know the gamer audience is certainly important. From what the study says about the UK, it is rather male (over 80 per cent) and technology-, music- or comics-affine. Fashion for example isn’t too high on the gamers’ agenda.

Knowing your audience, © Media Chain

Half ot the hardcore gamers will pay extra for convenience or ease of delivery concerning products they care about; which could be because they’re so busy playing (and watching streams). That is good to know for potential advertisers as well.

The whole study offers to many answers for the specific gaming industry in the UK: why people tend to play – for example de-stressing or escaping from reality, which might give hints to marketing potentials, too – and what kind of games they play. Shooters, Battle Royale, role-playing and action and fighting are common answers.

Gamers’ favourite eSports in the UK, © Media Chain

First person shooters are also the most watched eSports in that area. There’s a lot to learn for marketers, not only in the UK. Like more data on the rise of Battle Royale or what gamers think about brands. They say that brands don’t care for gamers (38 per cent), don’t understand the gaming culture (33 per cent) or try to speak to gamers in a generic and cool way – which fails (49 per cent). They rather want exclusive offers, USP explanations and so forth. Media Chain’s director of gaming, Tom Sweeney, states:

Brands, if they haven’t already, will need to start shifting their spend away from programmatic, away from traditional media, and into social content – either creating it themselves, or supporting a creator or channel that the audience is already connected with. The games industry has moved in that direction too, and it’s high time that non-endemics followed suit. It’s as cheap as it’ll ever be as supply currently outpaces demand – but that will change as brands realise the value of this audience.

The unfulfilled potential of gaming has been there for a while. Only now brands really try to leverage it and data and marketing solutions are provided with more regularity. Yes, there is a hype around eSports and everyone wants to play a part. But if you play it cleverly and take the many opportunities to help you understand gaming culture and its audience, you could also take your piece of a multi billion Euro industry that is only going to grow now.

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How Schalke’s Quest App Creates Augmented Reality Sanctuary for Fans

Schalke 04 have releasend an app that lets fans interact by discovering regions, answering questions, competing with fellow followers or even starting virtual fan clubs in Augmented Reality.

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Days are hard for Schalke fans, their team’s performances on the pitch are rather disappointing or, quite frankly, devastating. The club are looking for a new sportive direction. But their development off the field and especially in the digital realm has been innovative and could be considered groundbreaking. Schalke 04 were early adopters considering eSports. Now, they have released an AR app that offers fans so many routes to get closer to their beloved club – and earn themselves rewards like collectible cards. Maybe this is kind of a welcome retreat for some disappointed fans. For the club, it could mean a lot more digital engagment, eventually.

Schalke 04: Forward-looking traditional club gets into AR

Loved and loathed in the Ruhr area, followers around the world and the odd appearance in the Champions League: Schalke 04, despite never winning the Bundesliga to date, are a cult club, a traditional powerhouse in German football – and beyond. Sadly for them, last season’s success wasn’t going to last this campaign. Right now, after they got a hiding from Manchester City in the Champions League, they are somehow fighting relegation domestically. While fans are depressed, they might just have a reason to engage with their club in a positive manner.

The Schalke Quest App, released a few days back, makes fans immerse in Augmented Reality to discover new experiences tied to the club from Gelsenkirchen. Created by Berlin-based ForwardGameAR, the app shall offer supporters around the world new virtual experiences and enhance the stadium experience as well. Alexander Jobst, marketing director at Schalke 04, stated:

We are constantly working on improving our fans’ experiences around the world. Therefore we are now pleased to announce our new app, Schalke Quest. Working with ForwardGameAR has proven to be a great success. We recognised the talent they have in their development team and are happy to have found a partner who is passionate about the project too. The consumer’s behavior is constantly changing in our digital society. In order to react to that, we decided to develop something for our fans with ForwardGameAR. Schalke Quest is a fine example that tradition and innovation are at their strongest when they are working alongside each other

The Schalke 04 AR app Quest, © Schalke 04

The fans are urged to “play“ Schalke 04 in the “real world“, although it’s much more of a virtual, yet augmented reality. As soon as users enter the app, that asks for location data and a bluetooth connection, they can discover virtual boxes that contain questions regarding the club history of The Knappen. Answering correctly to such questions can earn the fans some rewards like digital collectible cards. Schalke are certainly not the first club banking on such content, as Arsenal London also offer collectibles like that.

Like the Gunners supporters the Schalke 04 fans can exchange collectible cards with other app users to complete their own set from Embolo to Rudy. Aditionally, they can create their own virtual fan clubs to engage digitally in the context of this new and attention-getting app. Furthermore, these fan clubs shall become spaces to exchange diverse items in a move to bring fans together on a digital level.

Another feature, though, is the option for two app users to get engaged in a duel to test who has got the best knowledge of the club.

AR apps might just give clubs more ways to express themselves digitally

The new app is available now to Android and iOS users everywhere around the world.

With the announcement of this particular app and its innovative playful features, we can certainly assume that AR is going to provide all those digital-affine fans everywhere new ways to engage with their clubs. Probably, features like Quest’s will boost dwell time inside these very apps. And that is a very important metric for the success of digital media overall. For it enables more marketing opportunities, too.

There are already a number of alluring AR apps from reknowned brands like Snapchat for a main example or IKEA’s feature to place furniture inside your flat via Augmented Reality. So, if big brands use such technology, why shouldn’t the sports business? The MLB and NBA do have AR apps to engage fans. With the MLB app, fans in the stadium can even amplify their experiences with live data brought to their devices. The NBA’s version offers enhanced insights and tempting games.

The NBA AR app engages fans, © NBA

Schalke 04 are a club that have understood how important it is to leverage these opportunities. And maybe, just maybe, this gimmick might distract the crestfallen Royal Blues fans from their team’s woes on the picht. Although, probably no technological solution will ever have that power.

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Data & Tech

How More Data is Getting Fans Involved and Enhancing Club Performances

Ever since digitasation got going, data is the most important currency. For the DFL, ManUnited, publishers etc. it not only helps keeping fans engaged.

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When you’re watching football, the presentation of match data like possession, shots on target and what have you doesn’t occur odd. Yet, as fans experience football in a much more digital way these days, with a mobile device seemingly always on hand, additional information are what keeps people engaged. That’s why the DFL is getting Sportec Solutions on board to provide much more detailed insights while the Manchester United app offers supporters a view at edited stats, which is completely unprecedented. And let’s not forget Opta, a service that always comes up with something to surprise fans. But sometimes, these data don’t just help those supporters.

Data storytelling is a way to reach the people

Sports data are extremely valuable to many a group. For the clubs, coaches and managers will likely be able to benefit from profound information concerning their performances. Especially, since some data might help predict future performances or explain tactical strokes in a game. Apart from the professional players and coaching staff, even commentators bank on data to give listening supporters more insights and understand the game better themselves with updates coming in every minute. Therefore, their jobs are enhanced, which again means that the fans get extra information from them, too.

This importance of match data is one reason why the DFL has cooperated with Sportec Solutions since the start of the 2017/18 season in the Bundesliga. The company collects, stores and delivers official match data. 100 freelance operatores work for Sportec Solutions and have produced over 70 days and 4.45 terabytes of video material already. Because the more data you have, the better the opportunities to compare. Giampiero Rinaudo is co-founder and CEO of deltatre, a global leader in the field of sports data technology, as well as a joint venture partner with the DFL in Sportec Solutions. He says:

As data storytelling and data analytics become increasingly relevant in sport, it is important that a leading sporting body such as the DFL develops these tools in-house while advancing further development and global marketing alongside strong partners.

Part of the collaboration of the DFL and Sportec Solutions is the Commentary Live System for broadcasting.

Live stats for commentary in the Bundesliga, © DFL

Furthermore, Sportec Solutions also offers viewers information when it comes to the use of the video assistant as text updates on the screens explain what is going on in terms of reviewing.

Right now, the data is compiled with the help of a semi-automatic image recognition system. And all these technically gathered data could offer wholly new experiences soon. Such as the virtual recreation of match scenes on a screen or an innovative approach in predicting a player’s future performance based on various match data. Eventually, even an explanation of a game via “Robo texts“ can be achieved without human input as algorithms and software evaluate match data to compile a report. That, though, might well lack the proven contribution of a knowing football fan.

Manchester United app shows player influence based on data

The English record champions always look for ways to keep their huge fan base engaged via various media. Therefore, they’ve integrated a completely new way to experience match data inside their official club app. For example, it not only shows how many shots, passes or chances a team has had, but also manages to determine which team has the momentum – and it notices changes there, too, even inside five minutes.

The data is utilised to show momentum in the game, © Manchester United

This innovative way to use data for another perspective reagarding a match is unique, since it was exclusively tailored for the Manchester United app. No other football club app offers these opportunities. And the fans will probably like the way they can understand performance data. Because the most influential players are also identified, be it in a head to head screen –which also shows „Best Mates“, players who pass to each other most often – …

A look at the head to head screen inside the app, © Manchester United

… or considering every performance metric.

A look at the player influence gives supporters even more insights, © Manchester United

The data shows information about United’s and the opposition’s players. In the miraculous win against PSG in Paris last week, there were a few players on both sides who had quite some influence.

These players were most influential in the game against PSG, © Manchester United

Not surprisingly, due to his two match-defining goals, Romelu Lukaku got an 98 per cent influence voting in the app.

Lukaku has been the most influential player in Paris, © Manchester United

You could argue, though, that Kimpembe, Buffon or Kehrer had a lot of influence, too. Not that any PSG fan would want to be reminded. Even after games United fans can have a look at the statistics in the app an swipe through them like a story in Social Media. Thus, this data driven experience really is something new and keeps fans engaged in their app. Other clubs, leagues etc. should consider utilising the data they can gather more media-effective as well. For it certainly appeals to the fans.

Data tweets are a good way to accentuate games

It’s no surprise that publishers take advantage of tweets to underline the importance, absurdity or developments of games or player performances.

The Daily Mail uses tweets to strengthen it’s live ticker, screenshot Daily Mails Football

And the fans want those statistics. Squawka has nearly 900.000 followers on Twitter, Opta Joe even counts 1,12 million. They always have some history in the locker:

Or stats, that should make managers rethink their next starting line-up.

The fans love these statistics and data as a supplementary treat anyway – and that is just the reason every club or football association should merge their very own brand with fitting, exciting, sometimes provocative data.

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Arsenal London Offer Blockchain App for Digital Collectibles

Fans of the London club can now own and trade digital collectibles like autographs or unique video content in an app created by blockchain firm Fantastec.

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For a lot of supporters, the matchday just isn’t enough. That’s why they consume so much football content on Social Media, on streaming platforms or in specific apps. Netflix’s Sunderland ’Til I Die or successful fan channels on YouTube are great example for this development. To meet the fans’ desire for more football and branded content at best, Arsenal London have teamed up with the platform Fantastec SWAP which uses blockchain technology in order to provide fans with digital collectibles. Those can not only be attained but be swapped globally by every supporter who accesses the app.

Arsenal make use of the blockchain technology

Arsenal London are certainly amongst the global frontrunners when it comes to digital media development. Their respective Media Group under the guidance of Ben Ladkin keeps fans everywhere engaged.

“The right content, at the right time, on the right platform“, that’s Ladkin’s motto. Fittingly, Arsenal have now partnered with technology innovators Fantastec to create an app which provides fans digital collectibles on the basis of blockchain technology. They’re not the first entity to bank on such content, though. The Belgian Pro League has already created crypto goods such as player cards in collaboration with Sorare.

We are very proud to have signed this world first partnership with the Belgian Pro League, and we thank them for their trust in Sorare. We see this as a game-changing announcement for the crypto-goods and the football industry. We believe that Sorare’s technology and user-friendliness will allow football fans to freely trade and play with their digital goods. Today’s announcement marks the first step of our development, which is guided by our ambition to create a global open gaming ecosystem, where users can live their passion right at the heart of the game and enjoy a truly new way to engage with it,

said Nicolas Julia, CEO of Sorare, at the time. Sorare are a company that embraces blockchain technology – and so are Fantastec. Their SWAP platform offers Arsenal fans a free-to-download football game inside an engaging app. Therein, a user can unlock player profiles from them men’s and women’s teams. Once unlocked, these profiles offer exclusive video content or autograph cards from the players themselves.

Arsenal London are the first team announced to get going on this platform, but other clubs from the Bundesliga or the Premier League could follow suit. Simon Woollard, content partner at Fantastec, commented:

Fantastec SWAP is a game-changer for international football fans as well the sports collectibles industry. The majority of sports fans are mobile-first and geographically distanced from their favourite teams. Fantastec has developed a new approach for fans to engage in more valuable relationships with the teams and players they love, rewarding their activity in the app, and empowering them to own a genuine share of a club’s history – timestamped and safely protected on the blockchain.

He emphasises Arsenal’s forward-thinking approach and the safe surroundings the SWAP platform offers due to the blockchain background.

Mobile, gaming, apps: That’s where clubs have potential

Peter Silverstone, Arsenal’s commercial director, said:

As football fans, many of us remember collecting and swapping player cards with friends. This initiative with Fantastec SWAP brings that concept into today’s digital world and gives our fans access to unique Arsenal collectibles and content wherever they are in the world.

Furthermore, beside the digital collectibles, Social Media-like features shall get supporters in contact and farther strengthen the exchange in this quite fascinating digital ecosystem. Arsenal encourage fans to make in-app purchases for player collections – as that will get their revenue in a mobile environment up even more. Still, whoever downloads the app, will be given free packs upon the sign-up. The Fantastec Swap app is available in the Play Store and in Apple’s app store.

The app offers various options, © Arsenal London, Fantastec SWAP

While clubs use in-app revenue opportunities like these to monetise the ever-growing desire for mobile-friendly and fan-centred content, technology companies and app developers such as Fantastec or Sorare will start thriving. For fans, collecting club and player items increasingly shifts to the digital space. Will player cards and similar collectibles really take off, though? The MLB has had success with that – and to connect a digital- and gaming-affine generation of fans to purchasable in-app content is a shrewd stroke. At leat, if these apps can offer a sustainable additional value for the fans who crave the extra content piece.

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