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Fighting Clever: Professional Fighters League on Giving Fans the Story With Data, Graphical Innovations

23/02/2021

Fighting clever: Professional Fighters League on giving fans the story with data and graphical innovations Speaking to the Godfather of live sports broadcasting George Greenberg By Heather McLean, Editor

Friday, February 19, 2021 - 09:36

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George Greenberg, executive producer at the PFL, says: We know that through graphic information, a fan is educated and the PFLs constant flow of pertinent information to the fan for us is everything.

The Professional Fighters League (PFL) launched just two and a half years ago yet it is already breaking innovation barriers in its use of data and graphics, which is, in turn, earning it healthy upswings in terms of fans and viewers.

In August last year, PFL launched its over the top (OTT) app, PFL MMA, which was part of its push into Europe.

This app includes the PFL's graphical data, based on Cagenomics', the PFL's in-house-developed proprietary SmartCage technology which allows it to deliver real-time fighter data and analytics to fans.

This Cagenomics data, which uses everything from cameras, algorithms and GPS positioning within the SmartCage where fighters face each other down, provides a new level of interactivity and engagement for fans over the web, as well as on live TV in the US, and is a resource and aid in storytelling for its commentators.

Beginning this season fans will be able to view Cagenomics and metrics via linear and streaming platforms around the world as well as on the PFL's website in real-time during events and after, and the PFL app. Cagenomics will be available overseas on linear TV and streaming platforms as well this season. The full slate of international linear and streaming channels for the PFL season will be announced at a later date.

Educating fans with pertinent stats

Speaking to SVG Europe, George Greenberg, executive producer at the PFL, says: We know that through graphic information, a fan is educated and the PFLs constant flow of pertinent information to the fan for us is everything.

For us at PFL, information and communication of fighter information is critical. This is how we tell stories. The PFL puts on more pertinent graphic information with a constant flow to the fan than anyone else. We feel with this information flow, the fan is better to better able to understand and grasp the sport; it's not an easy sport to look at and evaluate, you know; somebody can get knocked out, somebody can get submitted, someone can get out-pointed in a decision. The key thing for us at the PFL is how they got there and telling that story informationally, states Greenberg.

PFL offers fans its own exclusive interface graphics that include Ref Cam, Strike Speed, Fight Tracker, 3 Peat video and data, and Telestration. Coming in 2021 are two new innovations: Kick Speed and Fighter Performance Rating (FPR).

Adds Greenberg: [PFL commentator] Randy Couture calls MMA kinetic chess. Now you can imagine what happens when fighters look at each other and they're sizing each other up. They don't know if they're going to go to the ground, if they're going to stand up, or if this going to be a swing fest. And this is all being registered in fighter's mind. Well we provided the backdrop and a great storytelling point in how many strikes, the speed of the strike, how often they went to the ground, their positioning through GPS, through interesting camera angles that we have from Ref Cam to live Telestration; we're taking all of this information in real time and constantly presenting it to the fans.

PFL offers fans its own exclusive interface graphics that include Ref Cam, Strike Speed, Fight Tracker, 3 Peat video and data, and Telestration [shown]. Coming in 2021 are two new innovations: Kick Speed and Fighter Performance Rating (FPR)

Unleashing new innovations

FPR is based on the PFL's vast data resource. It will work in a similar way to the NFL's quarterback rating (QBR), explains Greenberg: The biggest graphic difference we're going to unleash in 2021 is a brand new graphical fighter performance rating. And this measures every single fighter in every single weight class. So you can compare how a female 155 pounder performs versus a 265-pound male heavyweight.

We're the only [MMA series] that has developed this formula; it's proprietary for us developed by us to measure fighter against fighter. It's going to be groundbreaking. It's going to be very, very informational and it's going to become very friendly and familiar to all MMA fans very quickly.

We are not afraid of technology. We are not afraid to make mistakes on air

He adds on the QBR: [American football players are] measured by a bunch of stats that are cumulative, that give a performance. We've applied that methodology to fighter performance. This information on the [fighters] is going to revitalise and re-energise how fans look at fighters.

In 2021 PFL is also set to add Kick Speed data to its event coverage for fans. It will do this using a number of overhead cameras to interpolate data. Says Greenberg: When a kick is thrown, how long does it take from when it's thrown to when it's actually touching a body part? Through three cameras, and a bunch of mathematical equations, we're measuring time and distance and that will equal speed. We're going to slowly walk that into how we present it in the live events.

Embracing risk culture

He goes on to note that the PFL is all about risk taking in terms of technological innovation: We are not afraid of technology. We are not afraid to make mistakes on air. We are very measured when we roll equipment out to present to the audience; we feel that in order to do things, we can start them on the back burner. But when it's ready to go, it has to be ready to go.

Technology is not always 100%. I thi
LINK: https://www.svgeurope.org/blog/headlines/fighting-clever-professional-...
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