April 25, 2018

CEO Center Stage: Chen Shachar, Founder & CEO of PlaySight

What's new with PlaySight since we last talked?
Since Verizon Ventures invested in PlaySight last summer, a lot has happened. Our SmartCourt presence continues to grow globally with close to 1000 SmartCourts across 20+ countries and in over 25 sports, including swimming, basketball, volleyball and soccer.

We launched our third SmartCourt – The PLAY. The PLAY is our first SmartCourt that is run by mobile devices (tablets and phones), providing real-time video for coaching, officiating and more. We also updated our tennis software, adding new features and drill modes to benefit our thousands of tennis players.

We were named to Fast Company’s “Most Innovative in Sports” list for the second consecutive year, which is a great honor. Innovation is at the core of everything we do, and this type of recognition is something we take with great regard.

Beyond those major updates, we’re bringing the very best in sports tech to as many high schools, colleges, pro teams, academics and facilities as we can. Our vision of a PlaySight-connected sports ecosystem becomes more realistic with each passing day.

Talk to us a bit about PlaySight’s SmartSchool initiative.
Our vision of connecting the next generation of athletes lives and breathes at the high school level. We’re now working with close to 20 leading prep schools in the nation, bringing our Smart video platform to several sports and student-athletes. By engaging with athletes at this important developmental time, we’re hoping to keep them in sports longer, and help them on their journey to the next level, whether that is to make the varsity team, earn a college scholarship, or simply get better at their athletic pursuits.

Check out our video from Ensworth School, one of our SmartSchools in Nashville, TN.

What kind of impact has PlayFair had on collegiate and junior tennis?
This is the second year of our PlayFair pilot with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. In 2017, four dual matches were played under PlayFair rules where players were given challenges and officials were able to use our instant video replay to review line calls. This year, we will have run close to 40 of these dual matches by the end of the season in April/May.

It isn’t easy to implement such a groundbreaking initiative in a sport, but the feedback across the board – from teams and player to officials and coaches – has been very positive. We’re excited to have a legitimate and tangible impact on the sport by removing cheating and bad line calling and enhancing sportsmanship. We’re also excited to bring the same technology and impact to the junior and recreational level with the major tennis federations, such as our partners at the United States Tennis Association.

How does PlaySight navigate the media and content landscape in sports?
The proliferation of hardware and software technology into media is not easy, but we’ve focused on expanding it within the past year or so. Every one of our 1000 SmartCourts cranks out hours of live, recorded video and sports data. While much of this information is protected and private (especially that of our pro and college partners), we’re giving the high school programs and youth academies their own media platforms for content monetization, inside-out marketing and brand development.

You can see the change reflected in our own social channels. This time last year, 90 percent of our content was tennis related with some inclusion of video. Now, we’re posting several highlight clips daily from our 25+ sports (baseball, volleyball, swimming and more). It’s tremendously rewarding to see our journey and vision come to life this way.

What’s on the horizon for PlaySight in 2018?
In addition to our exciting new investment announcement, it will be more of the same for us – more SmartCourts, more updates and innovations, more sports, and more countries. We truly believe in a future where there is technology (internet, cameras, video and analytics) on every sports court, field, gym and facility in the world, and we believe that we’re strongly positioned to lead the market there.

Tags: Andrew Der , sports tech , PlaySight , Chen Shachar