Tech Company HEED Adds New Wrinkle For Fans Of EuroLeague
This year's EuroLeague Final Four concluded on Sunday, with Luka Doncic leading Real Madrid past defending champion Fenerbahce 85-80. The Final Four served as a showcase for not only Doncic, the highly-touted Slovenian who could be the top pick in this summer's NBA Draft, but also technology company HEED. The joint venture between AGT Int’l and Endeavor partnered with the EuroLeague to launch its first consumer release in April. Its cameras and microphones measured the energy and movement of players throughout the EuroLeague playoffs. HEED Head of Business Development Lawrence Norman said, “This is really the first consumer play in a major sports league like the EuroLeague. … This is the first time that any company has utilized IoT [the Internet of Things] and AI in the capacity that we are to deliver a much more enhanced experience in near real time.” In addition to the increased int’l exposure this year's tournament received thanks to Doncic -- who scored 15 points in the win over Fenerbahce -- Norman highlighted CSKA Moscow’s Sergio Rodríguez and Fenerbahce’s Jan Vesely as a few other former NBA players currently starring in the EuroLeague. The HEED app, which is free, gives fans near live updates on the information it gathers from its sensors, which are located throughout arenas and on players' smart shirts. HEED, which has a staff of about 50 employees, also has partnerships with Professional Bull Riders and UFC.
‘A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING’: HEED CEO Danna Rabin said that the company is emphasizing memorable moments over the traditional TV viewing experience. She said, “The primary target audience for the HEED platform in general is 17-to-27. It’s a generation that is consuming less and less linear broadcasting. It is less connected to TV and more likely to consume a little bit of everything. This is exactly the approach that we take to live events: we break them into unique, exclusive moments and magnify them with unique insights from analytics.”
A GOOD FIT: The EuroLeague’s receptiveness to new technologies -- one of many examples was its use of Google Glass in ’14 -- starts with CEO Jordi Bertomeu, Norman said. HEED’s staff visited every EuroLeague team, meeting with everyone from high-ranking execs to coaches and players in the months leading up to the consumer release. Norman said that HEED’s ideas were almost universally met with interest and enthusiasm, particularly from Barcelona’s Kevin Seraphin.
“He was quiet during the presentation, so we didn’t really know what he was thinking,” Norman said. “After the presentation, he came up and said, ‘I’m starting two tech companies on my own. You guys are in exactly the right space.’ Athletes want to know more about their physical data to improve themselves. He added, ‘We’re all trying to figure out ways to bolster our social media presences, and this is a very good way to do that.’”
TRY THIS AT HOME: HEED also recently launched Measure Up, a contest where fans submit video of themselves imitating a player’s move or a coach’s gesture. Norman called the program, which initially offered four moves and expressions for fans to try, a first-of-its-kind experiment. HEED’s software analyzes the submissions and gives a score based on the accuracy of the imitation. Norman said last Wednesday, “For Measure Up, we have launched the contest intentionally to explore fan behavior for the period between games, and we have seen a lot of fans following the contest and we have received a large uptick in participants in the last few days.” He added that interest in Measure Up from sponsors has been “really strong.” As for the amount of downloads of the HEED app, Norman said, “We have exceeded our expectations, with a significant following across Europe, particularly in Turkey and Greece.”