Overtime: NBA CIO Gives E2 More Answers

Sara Peters, Editor in Chief | 5/1/2013 | 7 comments

Sara Peters
Two weeks ago, Michael Gliedman, CIO of the National Basketball Association (NBA), joined us for a live video discussion about the NBA's new big-data project. Gliedman explained why and how the NBA teamed up with SAP to create NBA Stats -- a website that enables basketball fans to revel in statistics with easy customization and beautiful visualization tools.

He took us on a fascinating trip through the challenges (an insanely aggressive time line), the successes (happy fans), and all the decisions made along the way (choosing the SAP HANA platform).

However, we didn't have time to get answers to all of the excellent questions the E2 community asked in the message boards. Fortunately, Gliedman was kind enough to follow up with some answers.

Some of you asked what the NBA Stats project entailed from a hardware perspective. Gliedman answered:

    Our infrastructure is a hybrid of traditional datacenter iron, virtualized environment and cloud services. The heavy use of virtualization and cloud services allowed us to have a smaller infrastructure footprint. The only new hardware that needed to be purchased were VPN firewalls and the SAP HANA machines. The rest of the infrastructure is virtual.

Several of you asked how multimedia might be integrated into the statistical information available on NBA Stats. From what Gliedman says, the site may become the world's greatest resource for highlight reels:

We are planning on integrating video into NBA.com/Stats over the summer. We have an extensive digital media management system that we use to house hundreds of thousands of hours of NBA video and is used by internal staff and close partners. We are going to use the power of SAP HANA to link this video to stats on the website.

Fans will be able to click on links within our box-scores to see all of the video clips that made up the stat. So if Carmelo [Anthony] has 30 points... you’ll be able to click on the 30 and watch all of the video events leading up to that statistic. We won’t need additional storage because we’re already storing that video for our archive.

Some of you wondered about the business case for NBA Stats. SAP HANA solutions are not cheap, after all, and considering that the site is free to use and contains no ads, you quite plainly asked whether or not the NBA planned to make any money off of the investment.

    Fan experience and engagement were the two main drivers of the project. For us, it is all about enhancing the fan experience of our game.

I can't speak for the NBA's CFO, but speaking as a fan, I say it's worth the investment.

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Sara Peters   Overtime: NBA CIO Gives E2 More Answers   5/30/2013 1:00:11 PM
Re: the world's greatest resource for highlight reels
@Kerstin Carson  "Is it that NBAStats is free or that NBAStats is free for now? Sorry, but this website is too cool to be free indefinitely...Coming from someone who will never be a b-ball fan, I would pay for access to info like this.."  I'm sure that the guys at the NBA would be very happy to hear you say that! I suppose it's possible that the business model will change in the future, but I actually think that they'll keep this service free.

If anything I think they'd start showing ads. I don't think they'd make it subscription-based.

Kerstin Carson   Overtime: NBA CIO Gives E2 More Answers   5/15/2013 4:08:11 AM
Re: the world's greatest resource for highlight reels
Is it that NBAStats is free or that NBAStats is free for now? Sorry, but this website is too cool to be free indefinitely.

Maybe they've got intellectual property rights on certain aspects of this site's development, and that's how they're going to make a profit: by selling information to other sports organizations so they can build similar sites like NBAStats.

Coming from someone who will never be a b-ball fan, I would pay for access to info like this.
Susan Nunziata   Overtime: NBA CIO Gives E2 More Answers   5/6/2013 5:56:15 PM
Re: the world's greatest resource for highlight reels
@Sara: Thanks, that's all the more impressive then. I'm not a sports fan but I will be checking this out too, and looking forward to watcching the videos.
Sara Peters   Overtime: NBA CIO Gives E2 More Answers   5/6/2013 11:04:30 AM
Re: the world's greatest resource for highlight reels
@Susan  Yes, it's the only one that provides this kind of functionality and I cannot wait to see how the video thing works. (I just hope that the Knicks beat the Pacers in the playoffs so I have some more Knicks highlights to watch on video when summer comes.)
Sara Peters   Overtime: NBA CIO Gives E2 More Answers   5/6/2013 11:02:37 AM
Re: NBA on the right path
@Pedro  I'd love to see other sports do this too, but I'd be surprised if the NBA worked closely with other sports leagues -- after all, they're all business competitors.
Pedro Gonzales   Overtime: NBA CIO Gives E2 More Answers   5/3/2013 12:16:59 PM
NBA on the right path
The website is amazing.  I specially enjoy how they were able to visual present player statistics in a way that is easy to understand.  I would really like to see this approach use in all games, NHL, MLS, MLB.  The NBA can even license the software to other sport leagues around the world if they want to make money on it. I think for coaches this tool is really helpful, by using statistics a coach can change his or her game plan for future games and understand player's performance.
Susan Nunziata   Overtime: NBA CIO Gives E2 More Answers   5/1/2013 5:56:49 PM
the world's greatest resource for highlight reels
Thanks for the additional information, Sara. The whole project is fascinating. I'm particularly intrigued by this summer's plans for video content. Is the NBA the only major sports league in the US to implement this level of functionality for its fans?

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