Sports Team Analysis and Tracking Systems (STATS LLC) is a global company that provides real-time scores, historical sports information, editorial contents and game analysis. Since its inception in 1981, STATS has grown into a single source provider for data and content from over 45 leagues and sporting events around the world.
New datafication enabled by the acquisition of SportVU
Numerous technological breakthroughs have enabled datafication of virtually any detail in a sports game. STATS realizes a huge potential in this untapped market. In 2010, it acquired an Israeli company called SportVU, which repurposed its missile tracking technology for use in sports. SportVU’s system captures the X/Y coordinates of all the players and references in a game along with 3D coordinates of the ball through recognizing all sorts of visual signals from lines on the court to reflections of flashing billboards.
Shortly after the acquisition, STATS launched a pilot with few teams in National Basketball Association (NBA) and installed a six-camera system in basketball arenas that tracks the real-time positions of players and the ball 25 times per second as shown in Exhibit 2 . Utilizing this tracking data, STATS goes beyond statistics traditionally based on binary events such as number of offensive rebounds or field goal to innovative statistics with the context of a game—speed, distance, player separation, ball possession etc. This new vast array of information can create new moneyball 2.0—everything from training, player valuation to scouting. One example is Kevin Durant’s closely guarded attempts vs successful shots. While his attempts happen all over the court, he only makes his shots in a few select areas. With new piece of information, Golden State Warriors coaches can train him to either make few attempts outside his comfort zone or practice shooting in the spots.
Diversifying revenue streams through new value-added services
STATS pays professional leagues to capture raw data and in turn licenses standard statistics and analytics for publishers and leagues. In 2014, 70% of its $60 million revenue comes from licensing standard statistics and providing analysis for more than 200 leagues worldwide. But through SportVU, it now charges about $100,000 per each NBA team for the very data. While relatively small now, this new revenue stream represents the company’s fastest growing business, doubling over 2012-2014 each year. .
However, providing raw data and relatively simple analysis offers limited value creation for the leagues. While the most value-add lies in interpreting data and extracting actionable insights, STATS is still playing a passive role of recording and supplying data rather than that of distilling insights.
Therefore, STATS started to look for ways to expand its coverage in sports industry. New mission was to switch to the analytics-driven, value-generating model. Multiple acquisitions followed to strengthen its capabilities. In 2011, STATS acquired high stakes in National Fantasy Championship, setting the first step in the world of fantasy sports, the market of $26B . Subsequent acquisition of data analytics specialist company, Bloomberg Sports in 2014, enabled the company to launch a new product that projects predictions for fantasy sports. Bloomberg Sports possesses quantitative models and algorithms that STATS once had to outsource a third party to, making it a perfect chance for STATS to diversify its portfolio. Most recently in 2015, it further strengthened its technology and geographic base by acquiring Prozone—a UK based company that tracks and analyzes athlete performance, maintaining a database of 100,000 players in four continents. Combining existing product suite in real-time data and analytics, STATS attempts to deliver more values to a broader range of customers around the world .
Will it be able to take the lead?
While STATS has attempted to diversify its revenue stream through shifting gears towards more value-adding sophisticated analytics and e-sports area, its fundamental business model is susceptible to competitions. Few large B2B accounts such as NBA league or professional teams still account for a majority of its revenue. Partnership deals may easily fail to be extended either because the leagues choose to internalize the role STATS has been playing or because other competitors can offer better packages. In fact, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced it would install a system called Statcast in 30 stadiums and provide data for every game, coming down to ~7 terabytes, for free through its subsidiary MLB Advanced Media . Moreover, NBA which has been the strongest proponent of its motion-tracking technology handed over its data capturing and distribution deal to its rival Sportradar; SportVU’s player-tracking cameras will be replaced with Sportradar’s equivalents .
Will STATS be able to take the lead in sports technology sector? Unless STATS brings in unmatchable innovative technologies and product differentiation, it may find itself losing more market share to once-their-customers-now-contesting leagues and similar sports data analytics competitors.
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 Wilson, Mark, “Moneyball 2.0: How Missile Tracking Cameras Are Remaking The NBA”, https://www.fastcodesign.com/1670059/moneyball-20-how-missile-tracking-cameras-are-remaking-the-nba, assessed Nov 17, 2016.
 Ecker, Danny, “Stats LLC sold to private-equity firm”, http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20140515/BLOGS04/140519841/stats-llc-sold-to-private-equity-firm, assessed Nov 17, 2016.
 Wong, Kristin, “The Fantasy Sports Industry, by the Numbers”, http://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/fantasy-sports-industry-numbers-n439536, assessed Nov 18, 2016.
 STATS official homepage, “STATS Unveils New Global Brand Identity”, http://www.stats.com/press-releases/stats-acquires-prozone, assessed Nov 18, 2016.
 Darrow, Barb, “Live from Fenway Park, a behind-the-scenes look at MLB Statcast”, http://fortune.com/2015/09/04/mlb-statcast-data/, assessed Nov 17, 2016.
 Leung, Diamond, “STATS Rebrands, Regroups After Losing NBA Partnership To Rival Sportradar”, http://www.sporttechie.com/2016/09/27/sports/nba/stats-rebrands-after-losing-nba-partnership-to-rival-sportradar/, assessed Nov 15, 2016.