Bally’s Fight Night Takes Data-Driven Fight Coverage to New Level
Sensors, tracking help enhance fans’ insight into the action
When Bally’s Fight Night debuted on Stadium on June 9, it ushered in a new era of fight coverage, delivering five MMA and four boxing matches to fight fans. But it also made use of sensors and tracking to give fans new insights into the action, including absorbed damage and punch force. And the use of a power bar above the fighters gave it a look that echoed videogames like Street Fighter.
“We worked very closely with Ross [Video] on developing an algorithm to intake real-time data from StrikeTec and sensors in the gloves,” says David Tetreault, EVP, media, and entertainment, Golden Boy Promotions. “With that, we could count the number of punches and track speed, velocity, and power.”
The automated data was complemented by manual data input by two data scientists sitting ringside with keypads. They were tracking punches and entering the data, which was fed into the algorithm developed by Ross, KO Entertainment, and Bally’s.
“The Sinclair piece and the Ross piece meshed together very well because there was a relationship there,” says Tetreault, “and there was a very good workflow on a number of different productions that Ross had done for Sinclair through their sports offerings.”
The show was produced out of Ross Production Services FIN3 with seven cameras, including the Canon EOS R5 mirrorless camera. For camera tracking, Ross had two cameras outfitted with Stype RedSpy optical-tracking technology, including one on a 24-ft. Technocrane. Augmented reality (AR) was rendered live using Ross Voyager engines, one per tracked camera (a third, backup engine was also available).
Insert graphics and the power bar were rendered using Ross XPression V10 with data parsed via Ross Datalinq. Ross handled all live production with 14 staffers onsite for the event.
Tetreault says one of the goals is to help engage a new generation of fight fans: those who are digital natives and think videogames and phone consumption first.
“I think that these AR graphics and the integration of power meters and sports-science stats takes the whole combat-sports presentation and production of combat sports to a new level and gives [fans] the opportunity to become fans in a different way than in the days of Sugar Ray Leonard or Marvin Hagler or Oscar De La Hoya.
“It’s very difficult to generate pay-per-views that are going to hit 2 million-plus any longer,” he continues. “But it’s relatively easy if you’re using the right tools, the right integration of different technologies and innovations, and broadcasting live across many different platforms.”
Looking to the future, Tetreault sees an opportunity to live-stream feeds to Twitch, Facebook Watch, and other platforms.
“We’re the only boxing promoter with an actual license-fee deal with Facebook Watch, where we do live fights and original content,” he points out. “We have an audience of over 4 million subscribers to that channel alone, and we’ve learned how to program to them.”
Polling, trivia, and other interactive elements are part of the Facebook Watch experience, he adds. “We listened to [the fans], and we kind of follow their patterns of media consumption. Interactivity is absolutely key.
“A big element of the algorithm,” he continues, “was developed in conjunction with Bally’s property Monkey Knife Fights, which is a competitor to FanDuel and DraftKings, where prop bets, contests, and daily fantasy all can be had.”
According to Tetreault, a tremendous amount of learning came out of Fight Night, and now the team can move forward on improving the viewer experience.
“On the plane ride home,” he says, “there were Ross executives and Bally’s executives together, and they were already kind of talking about how to iron out the kinks. The anticipation and the excitement for all of this is in full swing.”
Ross Production Services President/Executive Producer Mitch Rubenstein notes that it was truly a team effort and it came together quickly with the talented people at Ross, Bally’s, Monkey Knife Fight, StrikeTec, and KO Entertainment.
“We are just getting started,” he adds. “The June 9 beta production has paved the way for our companies to continue to work together to create the ultimate interactive and entertaining viewer experience.”