Sony buys tracking specialist Hawk-Eye

Hawkeye in actionIt’s been a busy weekend for Sony, which has agreed to buy Hawk-Eye, the specialist UK-based company that provides ball-tracking technology to cricket and tennis broadcasters and officials amongst others, and also confirmed plans to cover the Wimbledon tennis championships in 3D

The amount paid for Hawk-Eye, which will become wholly part of Sony Professional has not been disclosed, but according to the Financial Times industry valuations since the company was put up for sale by owner Mark Getty last summer have valued it at anything up to £20m. Since its establishment in 1999, the tracking technology has gone on to become an integral part of both cricket and tennis coverage, moving from an initial role simply advising broadcast commentary teams about on-field events such as LBW and line-call decisions, to one of actual adjudication alongside the umpires.

“Hawk-Eye’s capabilities, based on vision processing and triangulation, coupled with Sony’s established leadership in AV production and B2B solutions will enable the delivery of leading managed services and innovative solutions for Sports Stadia and Broadcasters,” said a company statement. No direct mention of FIFA and the eventual introduction of goal-line technology, but Hawk-Eye has been confirmed as one of the companies going through to the next stage after recent FIFA technical trials.

Naomi Climer, Vice-President Sony Europe, added: “Hawk-Eye presents Sony with the opportunity to acquire a small, innovative company with unique knowledge and excellent growth and synergies potential. It is an ideal complementary offering to Sony Professional’s existing portfolio of solutions for stadiums, venues and broadcasters, as well as bringing in specific expertise around managed services and Sports software solutions engineering. We see strong opportunities on the technological, business and marketing levels to further Sony’s leadership and engagement in the sports and broadcasting industry.”

Sony Marketing Director, David Bush, confirmed this to SVG Europe. “They are very keen to expand into other sports and, with Sony backing, we are going to help them expand on their plans,” he said.

Sony’s full acquisition of Hawk-Eye Holding will include all intellectual property rights and Hawk-Eye’s current full time staff, as well as its technology and software solutions engineering capabilities. No decision has been made on future branding as yet, but Bush admits that the Hawk-Eye brand is “very well-established” both within the industry and with the sports fanbase, so don’t expect to see any changes there. He also points out that the Hawk-Eye and Sony Professional development teams are only about 40km apart and are very keen to get started on integrating the two company’s technologies together. “There are no focussed ideas yet, but there are a number we’ll be exploring.”

In other words: watch this space.

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