Fox Sports takes data-driven graphics to new heights with Astucemedia Data Platform

Under a new multiyear agreement, Fox Sports Media Group will use the Astucemedia Data Platform to drive creation of real-time graphics within its telecasts. The Data Platform will be integrated with Fox’s Vizrt graphics system and deployed across Fox Sports, FS1, and FS2 for all Fox Sports Media Group (FSMG) properties. The Data Platform will manage data for the major North American sports, tracking NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, F1, and NCAA college football and basketball, as well as world-wide sports such as tennis, golf, and soccer, with coverage of World Cup, MLS, Champions League, Premier League, Bundesliga, and major national leagues. The Data Platforms will be installed at Fox Sports’ Los Angeles and Charlotte, NC, broadcast centers, and the data will be used for a variety of in-studio graphics and tickers.

“Astucemedia provides a data platform that hooks into their data for Vizrt artists and software engineers,” says Zac Fields, SVP, graphic technology and integration, Fox Sports. “Astucemedia has fantastic tools and plugins that integrate directly within Vizrt, making it incredibly easy for artists to deal with data-driven scenes. Essentially, they are translating the data in layman’s terms to make it easier to use. So these artists can utilize the Astucemedia plugins to customize scenes for touchscreens, live data, augmented reality, and any other data-driven graphic. These tasks just become so much easier to deal with using their platform.”

Astucemedia will provide Fox Sports with data-ingest modules for data feeds from a variety of providers and sources, including Opta, STATS, SMT, GSIS, and the FoxBox scorebug. In addition, the Data Platform features a web-based data-monitoring and -management tool and manual entry. The data will be abstracted into a normalized API, which will serve data to a variety of graphics systems for visualization.

This normalization offers a consistent interface to the data regardless of the data source and allows Fox Sports to choose the best source for the data at that moment. Graphics-system plugins allow artists to easily build the graphics with the data links preconfigured, with built-in logic for each sport and type of graphic.

“It will allow us to create more data-driven scenes, so we can populate our stats with real-time data,” Fields explains. “For example, we can have touchscreen customization within scenes with data, which is going to be huge moving forward as we start to use this platform.”

He adds that the platform will allow Fox production teams to turn any graphics into templates within the Viz Content Pilot environment.

“Now,” he explains, “a producer can easily select which game they want to see, select which player they want statistics for, select specific stats, or even customize their own and know that, when that graphic goes to air, all the data will be up to the second.”

Fox Sports has already begun to implement Astucemedia Data Platform at its Los Angeles facility. According to Fields, Fox plans to launch the system live on-air in the coming weeks and have it available for MLB coverage by next month.

“There’s so much data out there, and, as creators of graphics, we are constantly challenged as to how we can display this information, how we can make it interesting, and how we can do it efficiently,” he says. “If you don’t have the proper tools and the proper platform, you’re just not in a position to utilize this data regularly. You can build data-driven graphics with a lot of data services, but, if you don’t have a platform with the hooks necessary for your creative department, it becomes really challenging to do this day in and day out.”

Although Astucemedia has worked with major international broadcasters for soccer and motorsports, the deal marks its largest U.S. sports customer to date and provides valued exposure in the North American market. Known for expertise in financial and election projects, the company sees the deal as validation that the platform has all the required features for high-end sports-media outfits like Fox Sports.

“We are very excited to work with Fox Sports,” says Astucemedia CEO Alexandre Leclerc. “They will be exercising the full capacity and functionality of our Data Platform across all their channels. Fox sees the value and importance of well-managed sports data and recognizes that we are experts in this domain; they are trusting us with a key part of their product.”

SVG Director of Digital Brandon Costa contributed to this story.

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