TAYLOR’S TAKE ON THE WEEK IN SPORTS TECH: I’ve just returned from a week at CES, where sports tech was once again a topic of focus at the world’s largest technology show in Las Vegas.
I ran into everyone from the world’s fastest man — yes, I need to work on my Usain Bolt pose — to David Stern, the former longtime NBA commissioner.
And for the third year in a row, I got to catch up with Inside the NBA analysts and former NBA stars like Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith — fun times.
In addition to former and current athletes who attend the show to network with tech execs and get a look at potential investments, there were hundreds of sports tech-related companies at the big show showing off their latest products. CTA, the organization who runs CES, highlighted sports tech as a key vertical when speaking about the conference.
If you subscribe to this newsletter, you already know that technology is impacting sports more than ever. My trip to CES was another reminder of that.
Stay tuned for more videos and highlights from the week at CES, including my interview with Barkley, who had some funny things to say about smart toilets.
Highlights from the week in sports tech
- My GeekWire colleague Todd Bishop interviewed former Microsoft CEO and Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer this week in Seattle — Ballmer shared more details about Second Spectrum, a startup he backs which is developing artificial intelligence to augment NBA broadcasts with data and graphics.
- Intel is still investing big in sports. That was clear from the company’s keynote on Monday at CES, as it spent 30 minutes talking about how its technology is being used in the sports world. The tech giant brought out former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current CBS analyst Tony Romo, who praised Intel’s “True View” technology that lets fans experience the perspective of professional athletes during games.
- I took a short break from the madness at CES and visited the Vegas Golden Knights practice facility. The new expansion NHL franchise is defying expectations both on and off the ice — it leads the Western Conference and is consistently selling out home games. General Manager George McPhee told me that the team uses plenty of analytics and that Seattle could make a “perfect fit” for an NHL franchise.
- Major League Soccer today announced its first-ever esports league in partnership with EA Sports, following in the footsteps of the NBA.
- Yahoo will offer a free live stream for the remaining NFL playoff games, except for the Super Bowl, starting with this weekend’s divisional matchups. It’s the result of Verizon’s (which owns Yahoo) new deal with the NFL.
- Tom Brady gave “unusual access” to a filmmaker for a new documentary that will air on Facebook Watch.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers are tweaking their accelerator program, now called the Global Sports Venture Studio, by inviting other partners from across the sports and technology landscape.
- Twitter and Snapchat inked a deal with FOX for World Cup highlights.
- The New York Times spotlighted fast-growing Peloton, which had a big booth at CES this week.
- The Times also had a good story about how analytics aren’t being accepted by baseball teams in Mexico.
- The DePaul-Providence hoops game tonight doesn’t sound too exciting, but it may be worth watching — FOX is micing up the head coaches as part of an experiment.
- The Overwatch League kicked off this week — the winning team will collect $1 million.
- Nike gave a closer look at its Motion Adapt Bra, which uses new tech to provide a better fit.
- A French soccer league suspended goal-line technology after two errors were made during postseason matches.
- Russian hackers released new stolen emails in hopes of undermining doping investigators.
- The NFLPA had a big contingent at CES via its One Team Collective group, which published a “scouting report” this week highlighting five sports tech and consumer developments to watch this year: AI, cybersecurity, blockchain, customer experience, and consumer product innovation.
- The USGA approved the use of the Arccos app, which provides golfers with data-powered advice.
What to watch this weekend: NFL divisional playoffs, of course. Falcons at Eagles, 1:35 p.m. PT Saturday on FOX; Titans at Patriots, 5:15 p.m. on CBS; Jaguars at Steelers, 10:05 a.m. PT on Sunday; Saints at Vikings, 1:40 p.m. PT.
Thanks for tuning in, everyone! — Taylor Soper