BIHUB PATH

19 January, 2021

The Democratisation of Sports Broadcasting with Pixellot

Barça Innovation Hub

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It is possible to watch all matches of any sport, all categories, male, or female, including lower divisions, and even matches between fans. This scenario is now possible thanks to the technology, which is being implemented at breakneck speed, especially, after the new needs created by the pandemic and the matches that have had to be held without an audience or with limited access. Pixellot is at the forefront in this field, and it is working with FC Barcelona to develop its additional solutions for both the professional clubs as well as the academies and grassroots.

The system is simple. Pixellot has cameras that create a super high-quality image and using artificial intelligence the technology follows the game. The recording is automatically uploaded to the cloud or a local network, and it is immediately available for the coaching staff. First of all, from a tactical point of view, the main advantage is the optimisation of the coaches’ work. For many years, analysts have wasted a lot of time editing videos and preparing images. What is best for the coaching staff is to devote their time to study the team’s play and to make a clever use of the available resources. Pixellot provides solutions for all the demands in one pack in order to record without complications and obtain images and data in real time. Cameras and software, all automated, in combination with machine learning and computer vision algorithms capable of recognising the ball and learning different game states.

What Pixellot is developing, in collaboration with FC Barcelona, is a coaching solution system for training sessions and matches. A software that stores images in the cloud, codifies the game and collects data such as passes, corners, kilometres covered, heat zones, etc. There are even advanced options, such as the direction of passes, which allows you to analyse at a glance how the game developed.

One of the main advances of this technology is the fact that a coach could already have access to the videos of the first half of a match at half-time. The analysis could be performed in real time. Furthermore, the perspective could be the one that the coaching staff consider most appropriate as they have their own cameras. It would not depend on conventional tv broadcasting, and it would even have images that would cover the whole playing field, a complete panorama.

Pixellot cameras, installed in every field at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, record all the training sessions simultaneously. It is not necessary to record each exercise one by one on every pitch anymore. Once all the images are centralised, with a simple programme, the coaches can prepare the images they are interested in for when the players get out of the showers, only half an hour after the session.

Another advantage of this system is that it can be incorporated into the solutions that a club already has or the ones that are available in the market. Many times, the coaching staff need quite sophisticated data to carry out their analysis. This tool cannot give them that, but it is compatible with the ones they already use to obtain their specific information. For a club’s data centralisation, it is crucial, especially at Barça, considering all the information generated every week with its football, basketball, handball, hockey or indoor football training sessions, and its 2400 athletes. This centralisation is the only way for the different areas of the club to access the same source of data without complicated processes. Although there’s a cloud storage for data and records of history report, there is also the possibility of working with a local network so that a coach can see the information very quickly without depending on the internet connection.

Nevertheless, the greatest revolution these tools could trigger, is in grassroots sports or even for amateurs. Mainly, for its broadcastings. They would now be available for any device with the Pixellot app, and it is possible to develop OTT service strategies at all levels.

The pandemic has boosted the demand for a technology of this kind. Parents, friends, and relatives have not been able to attend the matches of their teams in the stadium. Pixellot’s cost is a fraction of the cost of a traditional broadcasting production. All the matches that have this system, from high school leagues to fans, could be broadcasted. At the same time, for the players to learn more, having videos and data of all their matches, even training sessions, is something new and it will be useful to raise the bar. A student or amateur coach usually has another job and does not have the necessary time for editing and analysing videos. This system provides the same tools that elite clubs use.

Women’s football and other sections will be able to engage their fans more if all matches are available live. It is a win-win situation. Match broadcasting is brought closer to the fans, and more fans will be able to engage with these categories. For minority sports teams, it is an opportunity to get sponsorship and create a larger fan base. In North America, there are 181 systems installed only in hockey rinks. When this network was installed, it was expected to broadcast 40,000 annual matches.

The Real Federación Española de Hockey, which broadcasts its National Hockey League and Liga Iberdrola using Pixellot’s solution, it also broadcasted all the IIHF World Women’s U18 Championship matches last year in Jaca, something that was unimaginable a few years ago. Meanwhile in the US, this technology is spreading among high schools through the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), that has almost 20,000 schools, of which more than 5,000 already use Pixellot. It is also taking place with the National Amateur Sports, offering its members a digital platform with the possibility to add sponsorships. The pandemic has created the need to broadcast students’ sports events, and at the same time, it has created a new business opportunity for educational centres, one of the greatest stimuli of all times for grassroots sports.

 

Álvaro González

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