TechGraphs News Roundup: 9/11/2015

After a laborious break, the News Roundup is back with the football sports-tech stories we found interesting this week.

Tennis may be slower to embrace technology than other sports, but if the All England Club can get web-savvy, you know the game is catching up to the curve. For recent evidence of that, we look to Damien Saunder and mapping software company ESRI. Saunder has been using data from Hawk-Eye, the camera system in place for the purpose of line-call challenges, and other sources to develop data visualizations of entire tennis matches. With counting stats (e.g., “How many aces did Serena hit in her last match?”) still dominating the tennis analysis conversation, Saunder believes his visualizations, and the practical information derived from them, can provide qualitative context to the whens and wheres of events that drive results in a sport in which timing and location matter. (And speaking of Hawk-Eye, this new Wall Street Journal interactive site lets you go eye-to-eye in a line-call test with the Hawk itself.)

With the NFL regular season kicking off last night, a lot of us have had football on the brain. We’ve recently covered concussions, NFL Sunday Ticket alternatives, and television streaming devices. Now comes news that Fox will be streaming live NFL games this season through its Fox Sports Go app and online at FoxSportsGo.com. Although this is a good step for fans of NFC teams, it’s a small step for the network. Access still requires a paid television-provider subscription (Dish Network users currently don’t have access), and while this does permit mobile viewing on a tablet, smartphone viewing is not supported. Finally, coverage is restricted to the game your local Fox affiliate is carrying, so if you’re an NFC North fan living in the NFC South, you’re going to need a longer Ethernet cable.

Meanwhile, Comcast is trying to improve the television viewing experience– and maybe keep your eyes off some other, non-Comcast-connected device– with a new, on-screen football app that provides interactive statistical data about players and teams in action. Use of this app requires a Comcast X1 subscription.

CBS and ESPN have been testing “Pylon Cam,” which is what it sounds like, and probably very expensive, so stop using the pylons as golf clubs. (Also from that story, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin expresses skepticism about the utility of using drones at training camp, and all players’ shoulder pads will contain RFID tags for on-field movement tracking.)

Not to be left out, the NFL itself is expanding its digital offerings. For example, the league’s new video network, NFL Now, will be available on its redesigned mobile app, creatively dubbed NFL Mobile, as well as online and on a number of other popular platforms, all without a subscription. Additionally, all Verizon users can stream Thursday, Monday, and in-market Sunday afternoon games on connected Android and iOS smartphones, but not tablets, at no additional cost. (Sorry, BlackBerry PlayBook users.) Sure, the NFL may be turning into a mind-melting mixture of golden-age prizefighting and professional wrestling, but at least we have little excuse for missing a second of it.

It’s looking like there will be some fresh faces in the 2015 MLB playoffs, and with less than a month to go in the regular season, the race for those final postseason spots is hot. Also hot: all that internal data the Cardinals nabbed from the Astros. Remember that? Baseball is big business, and as big data becomes an increasingly important part of that big business, data industry actors are counseling baseball teams to behave more like sophisticated corporations with intellectual property worth stealing and protect themselves accordingly.

Finally, included in Apple’s live-action data dump community theater show Wednesday was news about a new MLB At Bat app for Apple TV. The app offers plenty of features, including split-screen viewing of two live games and on-screen statistics. An NHL app also is reported to be coming to Apple TV in 2016.

That’s all for this week. While you’re streaming football straight into your domes this weekend, don’t forget to be excellent to each other.



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Alec is a founding contributor at ALDLAND and a writer at Banished to the Pen and TechGraphs. He interfaces with sports twitter @ALDLANDia.

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When will I be able to watch sports without screens? I’m not talking about Google glass or Oculus Rift. I’m talking about bypassing both screens and eyeballs and just experience the game directly. I want to plug some part of myself into some part of the internet and truly experience the games. See, hear, feel, smell. Well, maybe I’ll turn the smell volume down for sports events. I’d probably turn the feel volume down too so I don’t turn into a sack of bones loosely supported by skin after one crushing sack or one slight shove out of bounds.