SBJ/July 22-28, 2013/Idea Innovators

Brian Kopp

Photo by: STATS

Stats LLC for years has had a steady, successful business distributing scores and statistics to thousands of media outlets around the globe.

But Brian Kopp, head of Stats’ sports solutions group, was among those who felt the company could do much more, particularly in the fast-advancing area of motion tracking, in which players and the ball are monitored in real time.

That real-time data, in turn, has opened a vast new realm of sports analytics, radically altering how teams in many sports develop their rosters and expanding the content that fans receive.

Buttressed by Stats’ 2008 purchase of Tel Aviv-based optical tracking firm SportVU, Kopp has quickly built the company’s motion tracking business into an industry force. SportVU is now used by 15 NBA teams and a large number of European soccer clubs, and he is actively pushing the technology into other sports, including American football and hockey.

And Kopp was at the forefront of a more recent deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers in which SportVU data, almost always closely guarded by teams, is displayed for fans on the center-hung scoreboard at Quicken Loans Arena.

“We completely saw motion tracking as an important, disruptive force, and something that would bring about new layers of information,” Kopp said. “But just as important, this is something that completely fits into who we are as a company. This isn’t just something that sits aside our core business. It’s fundamentally part of our DNA.”
— Eric Fisher
Innovation you’re most proud of: SportVU and the impact it has made on sports analytics. We’ve evolved SportVU from a concept into a powerful analytical tool across several sports. While the technology is an innovation in itself, the analysis and insights gained from our data will feed more innovation.
Last innovation that made you say, “Wow!”: We are working with a company that can monitor physical attributes and performance through a small wearable patch. The real-time insights and visualizations are amazing and give a deep understanding of how our bodies are performing.
It may sound crazy now, but soon we’ll be able to …: Use our mobile devices to watch 3-D re-creations of live sporting events that allow fans to simulate various game outcomes — a real-time version of “Madden” or “NBA 2K” with the user in control.
A less-than-perfect outcome that you learned from: A few years ago, we worked with the NFL to create a prototype of SportVU to track all players and the ball. We were able to prove that our technology was ready but were unable to work out a business arrangement to move forward. While the NFL stalemate was disappointing, we used several key learnings to enhance our basketball technology and output.


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