Emerging Tech, Data & Media

Sportradar US acquires player-tracking tech startup MOCAP Analytics

Sports data company beefs up AI capabilities and gains presence in Silicon Valley.

by Michael Long

Sportradar US acquires player-tracking tech startup MOCAP Analytics

Sportradar US, the American division of sports data and integrity company Sportradar, has announced its acquisition of artificial intelligence (AI) technology startup MOCAP Analytics.

Co-founded five years ago by Arian Forouhar and Eldar Akhmetgaliyev, MOCAP Analytics is based in Menlo Park, California, and is perhaps best known in sport for its work with the Golden State Warriors, the reigning NBA champions who became the first team to use the company’s AI-powered player-tracking technology in 2012.

Headquartered in Switzerland, Sportradar has offices in 34 cities and employs over 1,700 people worldwide. It is currently the official data partner for a host of sports properties, distributing real-time statistics for the likes of the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

“MOCAP Analytics has developed premiere AI-powered data storytelling software and algorithms for fan engagement and they have been creating rich NBA and NFL content for years,” said Carsten Koerl, the founder and chief executive of Sportradar.

“By combining their software and algorithms with our data and partnerships, our clients will be able to deliver snackable, visual and original content across all platforms and channels worldwide.”

Following their integration into the Sportradar business, MOCAP's Silicon Valley-based workforce will effectively form a newly created Analytics & Storytelling division headed by Forouhar, the company’s chief executive who, like Akhmetgaliyev, holds a PhD from the California Institute of Technology.

According to Ashok Balakrishnan, the senior vice president for product and technology at Sportradar, the unit’s remit will be to develop new player-tracking data products that will then be made available to Sportradar's industry clients including broadcasters, digital publishers, online distribution outlets, brands, teams and leagues.

While terms of the transaction have not been disclosed, the acqusition of MOCAP dramatically enhances Sportradar's AI capabilities. Using insights delivered by MOCAP’s machine learning technology, the company plans to automatically generate textual, audio-visual and statistical content for distribution across broadcast platforms, social media, and other digital and over-the-top (OTT) streaming outlets.

Broadcasters will also have the ability to use that information to create on-screen graphics for use before, during and after games, while on-air analysts will be able to use the content to inform their previews and reviews.

“Sports storytelling is an area where machines and humans can work together to enrich the fan experience and stir conversation,“ said Forouhar. “We now have a unique position in the marketplace by combining unfettered access to player-tracking data, established partnerships spanning broad distribution channels, and powerful data storytelling capabilities.

“Teaming up with the global leader in this space allows us to stay on the cutting edge of sports and technology and to extend the reach of our data storytelling around the world.”

A Sportradar statement said MOCAP’s technology will initially be applied to Game Stream, the company's interactive 3D player-tracking product that is available to NFL fans exclusively via Sports Illustrated.