Basketball fans and stat geeks are in for a treat with the start of the NBA season today, as the league is set to improve it’s content engagement with the use of ‘Big Data’. For the first time, all 29 of the NBA’s arenas will have software-packed cameras that will record players’ every move, mapping 25 images per second.

The potential impact on our understanding of the game is fascinating and with the NBA being the first major sports league in the USA to invest heavily in motion-tracking technology, we could see a real impact not just on the future of basketball, but on the future of all sports. As the Official Player Tracking Partner of the NBA, STATS’ SportVU – a system of six cameras and relevant software will calibrate and measure the movements of all players and the ball on the court.

This groundbreaking system will provide a continuous stream of innovative statistics based around speed, distance, player separation, and ball possession for detailed and targeted analysis of players and teams. This information will then be fed to the NBA website, the NBA Game Time app and NBA TV to provide fans with a wider variety of information than currently available, allowing for greater analysis of team plays, scrutiny of officials and stastical information on individual performances, with the hope of sparking conversation through social media and improving engagement with fans.

With greater involvement of fans, comes the opportunity for further sponsor activation, through web-based sponsorship opportunities, In-venue scoreboard graphics and promotions and Sponsored broadcast enhancements for pre-game, live and post-game shows.

Steve Hellmuth, NBA Executive Vice President of Operations and Technology, said in a news release,

“We are a league driven by data, and our expanded partnership with STATS provides our teams and fans with access to uncover groundbreaking statistics”.. “In this new era of statistical information, SportVU will be an invaluable resource for basketball executives and our passionate fans.”

However, perhaps sensibly, the league is not planning to flood fans with data from the off, rather it will look to see what fans want and respond with favoured data.

The NBA isn’t the first to discover SportVU. A handful of professional football (soccer) teams in Europe started using it a few years ago, and some Major League Baseball teams, including the San Francisco Giants have used it to track the movement of fielders to learn more about best ways to play defense. However, the NBA are rolling this out on a much larger scale, and this could truly be basketball’s Moneyball moment.