TAYLOR’S TAKE ON THE WEEK IN SPORTS TECH: Yo, Yinzers. I’m still having fun in Pittsburgh, and learning that this could be a hub for sports tech innovation.
This week I met with Diamond Kinetics, a hot startup here that helps baseball players better understand their swing.
That’s Buddy Clark and C.J. Handron, co-founders of Diamond Kinetics, in the photo above at their office. They work just a few blocks away from PNC Park and Heinz Field.
“I want to see this as one of those sports tech epicenters, because there isn’t really one,” Handron said.
Pittsburgh has the pieces. It’s a rabid sports town with three pro teams; there’s talent from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh (which just launched the Performance Innovation Tournament); and corporations that can provide support — Dick’s Sporting Goods, for example, is headquartered in the region.
I also had a chance to attend another Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game, where I met Penguins CEO David Morehouse, who took a fascinating, unconventional route to the Pens front office. We talked about how the team is working with Pitt researchers on ways to improve player performance. It was a good example of the collaboration that happens here in Pittsburgh — another ingredient that could make the Steel City a sports tech hub. More to come on this topic.
Highlights from the week in sports tech
- Lots of tech at the Winter Olympics. There was controversy over high-tech suits worn by Britain’s skeleton racers. A New York Times interactive shows how we’ve reached “Peak Olympics.” Ski and snowboard athletes are using everything from VR to strobe glasses. Intel put on a cool drone show during the Opening Ceremony, which was delayed due to a cyberattack. NBC is streaming a ton of live action. Alibaba is a top IOC partner, while Intel and Samsung are providing a broadscale 5G network.
- The NBA held its NBA Tech Summit this weekend. Steve Ballmer, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant talked about the future of storytelling. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver talked about Black Panther and noted that 81 of the top 100 shows are live sports. Mark Cuban and Magic Johnson were also at the event.
- Silver this weekend also discussed how the NBA wants to take a 1 percent cut of each NBA bet if gambling is legalized.
- Russell Wilson’s fan app startup, TraceMe, expanded this week to include a channel for his wife and music superstar Ciara.
- Two other new startups also making a sports content play. Overtime raised a $9.5 million round led by Andreessen Horowitz; The Religion of Sports, founded by Tom Brady and Michael Strahan, is looking for $3 million.
- LiveLike, which helps FOX Sports and Sky stream VR content, raised $9.6 million.
- Gatorade is partnering with Volt Athletics, a Seattle startup that develops a strength and conditioning app.
- Today’s Daytona 500 will feature a tethered drone and a record number of in-car cameras.
- Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, YouTube, and Verizon are all bidding for digital streaming rights to Thursday Night Football.
- The NBA inked a deal with Magic Leap to stream games in VR; Intel is streaming TNT games in VR this season.
Thanks for tuning in, everyone! — Taylor Soper