STAIDIUM OTT Platform To Bring AI-Powered Productions to U.S. Amateur Sports
The end-to-end content-capture and -distribution platform was created with T-Mobile
Germany-based SPORTTOTAL has launched its STAIDIUM OTT platform in the U.S. Designed to solve a problem facing smaller leagues and the amateur-sports movement, it is an end-to-end content-capture and -distribution platform created with T-Mobile to reach fans in an easy and affordable way.
Peter Lauterbach, CEO, SPORTTOTAL AG, says there is a long road ahead but that partnering with Deutsche Telecom and T-Mobile has laid a unique technology foundation. “We bring the full package and are totally motivated. And we have good-quality technology that users can rely on.”
At the core of the value proposition for users is the distribution and installation of free SPORTOTAL camera systems featuring three cameras and lenses, a microphone, and a built-in T-Mobile 5G hotspot that will live-stream sports content directly to the STAIDIUM OTT offering.
Although the name may look like a misspelling, the AI is very deliberate. “We chose to use AI [for the spelling] because we are 100% driven by AI,” says Lauterbach. “In Germany, for example, we have 1,000 systems capturing matches, and only two people are required to monitor those systems. We broadcast over 25,000 matches a year, and two people can take care of them unless we have a rare technical problem with a camera. But the rest is AI-based: the graphics, analytics, streaming, and everything else.”
The goal, he says, is to give semi-professional sports leagues and teams a chance to capture their competitions for a variety of needs, including distribution to fans and coaching and player analysis for everything from game preparation to recruiting. At the core of the offering is a single camera system that has three lenses and a single microphone and uses AI to track objects like the ball and players. STAIDIUM will install the single camera for free in the ideal location (typically 5-10 meters above the center of the playing field) and then can add in local commentary via an XLR input. Scoring data can be integrated from the local scoreboard operations.
“You can also do commentary from your living room so that every fan can be a commentator on their own channel,” adds Lauterbach. “We can have a fan-reaction channel as well as a live-chat function. It’s an interactive system that allows everybody to participate.”
Dallas-based Global Sports Platforms (GSP) will manage STAIDIUM, with veteran executives David Cochran, managing director, STAIDIUM, GSP, and Kevin McLaughlin, chief development officer, STAIDIUM, GSP, leading the efforts in the U.S.
Cochran sees the end-to-end system as compelling for consumer-facing needs as well as business-to-business. “The consumer side is the typical streaming service, PPV, or on-demand while the B-to-B side is for scouting and recruiting,” he explains. “We think we can help with the latter and consolidate a very fragmented market. Everything in that area has been piecemeal to this point.”
Cochran says the initial rollout will be hockey venues and that STAIDIUM expects to have cameras in U.S. sports venues at all levels — from youth to professional. The effort aims to build on the growth SPORTTOTAL has seen in Europe, where the company has live-streamed more than 35,000 events and has the broadcast rights for more than 200 competitions.
The STAIDIUM platform plans to deliver highlight clips of each game and player, edited together using artificial intelligence, along with real-time statistics and state-of-the-art analytics. Player profiles — enabling athletes, coaches, and scouts to easily track and measure individual performance — will be part of the offering this spring when STAIDIUM launches as a standalone app on iOS, Android, and most smart TVs. Customers will be able to choose from season-pass subscriptions or pay-per-view options, with analytics add-ons for coaches, scouts, and individual players.
Kasar Masood, VP, digital technology, SPORTTOTAL, says the system offers the flexibility to be deployed however the team or league (or individual) demands.
“We can have an individual website for a particular school, or we can have a website for an association or a region,” he explains. “This flexibility is basically coming through our approach, which is to offer a white-label OTT platform.”
The AI system can also learn new sports, taking about 10 games’ worth of information to begin building out AI model logic that can get the job done. “There are nuances between sports,” he notes, “and team sports are easier to do.”
McLaughlin sees this as an exciting time and opportunity for those involved with playing, coaching, and watching sports in the U.S.
“Athletes, coaches, clubs, leagues, facilities, fans, and parents will now have cutting-edge technology to positively experience true state-of-the art entertainment and development options,” he says. “SPORTTOTAL has over 40 years of international experience, and their industry-leading cameras and uniquely sophisticated built-in AI technology, along with T-Mobile and the nation’s largest 5G network, combine to make STAIDIUM the most modern and innovative sports-streaming and -solutions platform available today.”
The company already has one beta site on board: Ice Zone in St. Louis. According to Ice Zone owner Lloyd Ney, STAIDIUM has created a platform that will provide a best-in-class experience for viewers, athletes, and coaches.
“By utilizing next-generation AI and built-in 5G network technology, STAIDIUM will change sports streaming in the North American market,” he says. “The Ice Zone will work with the STAIDIUM team as a beta facility to improve product delivery, develop trusted analytic models, and create the best streaming experience for end users.”
SPORTTOTAL also announced that Peter Hutton and Ricardo Fort will become the first two members of its newly established advisory board. Hutton led the sports business at Meta for the last five years and was previously CEO at both Eurosport and Fox Sports Asia.
“He brings depth to the table,” says Lauterbach. “He is one of the most experienced media managers in the European market and also made big steps in the U.S. market with Meta. To have him on board is huge for our international network as well as for his advice as he is 10 years ahead on things. But I also respect him for what he thinks and knows.”
Fort currently leads Fort Consulting and previously led the global sponsorship departments at Visa and Coca-Cola. “He is one of the most respected names in the global sponsorship business,” says Lauterbach, “and he will be an important part of building a strong revenue stream from advertising on our streaming platform.”