Big Data has officially hit big sport. You heard right, top level analysis of gigantic datasets has come to the world of basketball.

Every play, every movement can now be tracked and analyzed to provide the most high resolution game analysis ever seen. Sportvu uses computer controlled optical technology- the same used in military missile tracking- to track the real-time positions of players and the ball 25 times per second

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What is Sportvu for? Where did it come from? Where is it going? In this article we’ll examine the origins of Sportvu and find out what the advent of big sport data means for the industry and the applications of Sportvu technology.

What is Sportvu?

Sportvu is a network of tiny cameras that are installed above the court that silently track and record the actions of each player and the ball during a basketball game. The cameras capture game information 25 times a second, and uses the tracked data to create a comprehensive breakdown of statistics based on speed,  distance, player separation and ball possession. Not only can Sportvu tell you all about the shooting average of a player, but it can provide detailed information such as a player’s shooting average after dribbling once, twice, or even their shooting average from a specific location on the court.

Sportvu combines player and ball tracking with a huge historical archive of game data to provide the most sophisticated basketball data stream in the world. Statistics supplied by Sportvu can be used to provide engaging information for both casual sports fans and diehard statistics nuts alike.

How Does Sportvu Work?

Sportvu captures the X/Y coordinates of all the players and refs along with the X/Y/Z coordinates of the ball 25 times second. This adds up to 72,000 captures each game for each tracked item, creating hundreds of thousands of data points every second. The data is fed to an advanced analytics algorithm that takes thousands of variables into account and compares the data to the entire historical library of data gathered by Sportvu over the last four years from every stadium. Sportvu can be accessed in one of two different ways.

The first method of interaction with the Sport is a web-based tool called ICE that allows users to interact easily with STATS Sportview statistics and access standard and premium reports. ICE makes assembling disparate information from multiple sources into streamline reports quick and easy, simplifying the process of creating unique and compelling content. ICE provides access to pre- and post-game statistical reports, access to in-progress reports, and access to information such as reports on passing, events, rebounding, shooting, touch location and more. Premium reports such as ball screen reports, defense reports and performance and fitness reports are also available via ICE but may incur extra fees.

Sportvu is also available as an XML or API feed for those that want to access  STATS Sportvu information for web syndication, leaderboards or enhanced box scores, or users that want to use the raw positional data provided by the Sportvu system to compile their own data visualisations.

Sportvu statistical data feeds offer All STATS SportVU statistics, including over 30 that are updated while games are in progress, and X/Y/Z positioning data points on all players and ball in all games at all times. The statistical data feed, however, does not include any STATS derived statistics

Sportvu Applications

The Sportvu system can be used for a wide range of statistical analyses. Sportvu can be used to enhance ball screens, detecting the event, the defensive coverage, and the result of the play. Sportvu users are able to examine in high detail the performance of the screener ball and handler combos, and analyze the frequency of shots, assists, passes, turnovers, fouls, drives and more.

Sportvu can also be used track a wide variety of defensive actions such as drives allowed, offensive rebounds allowed, and stop percentages. Often traditional box scores don’t take high level statistics into accounts, and the deeper insight provided by Sportvu can be utilized to deepen the understanding and appreciation of defensive performances that may not be examined in such detail elsewhere.

Sportvu has the ability to measure the speed and distance covered by a player over the course of a basketball game and provide the average speed of the fastest players in the league over the course of either individual games or an entire season. These metrics have excellent sponsorship and sport endorsement applications and can even be updated live in game.

The Sportvu Story

The technology behind Sportvu has been adapted from Israeli missile tracking technology company, who in 2005 adapted their high tech ballistic tracking system to the basketball court. Seeing the wide range of applications for technology able to track multiple high-speed trajectories at once, the Israeli team adapted their tech for use on the sports field.

The first iteration of Sportvu technology was created for soccer, and consisted of three cameras mounted above the soccer pitch and feed data to the central computer. The system was successful in tracking all player and ball movements and plotting them in three dimensions.

In 2008, global sports statistics, technology, data, and content company STATS purchased the Sportvu system to better provide statistical analysis and content to multimedia platforms, television broadcasters, and major B2B and B2C brands. The Sportvu system cost roughly $100,000 USD to install, any by the end of the 2012 to 2013 basketball season in fifteen arenas across America.

The massive difference in data captured between Sportvu equipped stadiums and others caused the NBA to sign a contract in 2013 to install the Sportvu system in every arena in the United States

The Future of Sportvu

SportVU has incredible potential with deep data, and is now installed at every major league stadium in the US, opening up a new way of evaluating everything a player does, and a new way of providing statistical data for basketball fans worldwide. Sportvu has plans to expand beyond the limits of the basketball court, and may soon be coming to a sport near you.

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