In the world of professional sports, teams are constantly trying to get a competitive edge. Tracking player development and conditioning has become an integral part of the process as teams search for the diamonds in the rough. Not so long ago, that responsibility was left to the experienced, yet highly subjective, eyes of sports teams’ management and scouts. New technologies have emerged, resulting in the use of computers, advanced statistics and even outsourcing to fulfill these roles.
Using advanced statistics to assess players differently than the competition was initially made famous by Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball team, who was portrayed in the book and movie Moneyball. Professional hockey, however, has been slower than baseball at adopting progressive skill analysis methodologies – until now.
A new breed of Canadian startups, like Stathletes and Sportlogiq, have developed technologies and programs that can successfully spot a variety of player characteristics that outdo the older practice of merely watching hours of video in hopes of spotting something. Sportlogiq, a Montreal-based startup that boasts a client list which includes over 10 NHL teams, uses analytics technologies to identify over 100 movements a player makes on the ice. With this information, teams are better equipped to find undervalued players that may fit a particular need of the team. Teams with lower budgets find this technology particularly useful as it can help them compensate for the lacking of resources required to afford the most skilled and sought-after players.
Stathletes, a St. Catherines-based startup run by Meghan Chayka, the sister of Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka, uses microdata to help NHL teams mine players that may be undervalued in a particular facet of the game. The company made over $1 million in revenue during the last NHL season and is poised to surpass that mark for the 2015-2016 campaign. Sportlogiq is also on the rise as it successfully raised roughly $1.7 million in seed financing in July of 2015.
The actual size of the market for these companies and the revenue ceiling for them is yet to be established. However, as more professional sports teams begin to outsource their player-analysis, or at least call upon firms like Stathletes and Sportlogiq for assistance, it’s likely that we will see more of these firms emerging in the near future.