MLS and IMG Arena extend partnership to provide player & ball tracking data to MLS NEXT Pro
The extended agreement will see IMG ARENA integrate its deep tech, cloud-based platform to provide player and ball tracking data to MLS NEXT Pro to enhance their player performance analysis. The data points collected will include players’ total running distances, speed zones, sprints and separation between players, among others.
IMG ARENA will also provide tracking data of match officials to enable the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) to support on-going efforts to develop the next generation of referees in North America.
The innovative event tracking technology was integrated into IMG ARENA’s extensive data collection capabilities through its acquisition of Signality in 2022. It uses computer vision to extract highly accurate sports event and tracking data in real-time, utilising existing camera setups to derive positional data and event information automatically. The product is part of IMG ARENA’s Sports Services offering which helps rightsholders deliver fans a front-row seat to the action with best-in-class data, content creation and production streams.
Last year, IMG ARENA announced its long-term, global partnership to deliver the next generation of fan engagement in MLS and MLS NEXT Pro. Alongside its role as the league’s official data partner, IMG ARENA is delivering innovative content solutions, next-generation fan analytics, and marketing tools to MLS’ betting and media partners, including the launch of three new MLS live data feeds, designed to enhance the fan experience.
“One of the areas of focus for MLS NEXT Pro is innovation so we are thrilled to be bringing this new player and ball tracking technology to the League,” said Ali Curtis, Senior Vice President of Competition and Operations, MLS NEXT Pro. “IMG is continuing to create new solutions for soccer fans around the world and this is a great example of their commitment to delivering a best-in-class experience.”
Freddie Longe, President of IMG ARENA said: “This expanded partnership means we’re able to provide MLS NEXT Pro with an all-encompassing data collection system. Adding compelling ball tracking data and player analysis will provide enhanced performance insights, on top of our next-generation fan engagement analytics and innovative content solutions which are empowering the future MLS universe.”
About MLS NEXT Pro
Launched in 2022 by Major League Soccer, MLS NEXT Pro is a professional men’s soccer league in the United States and Canada that completes the pro player pathway. MLS NEXT Pro continues to grow the game through innovation and diversity, bringing professional soccer to new communities and creating global opportunities both on and off the field. MLS NEXT Pro enters its second season in 2023 with 27 teams, all affiliated with MLS clubs. Seven are new to MLS NEXT Pro in 2023: Atlanta United 2, Austin FC II, Crown Legacy FC (Charlotte FC), Huntsville City FC (Nashville SC), LA Galaxy II, Los Angeles Football Club 2 and New York Red Bulls II. Additional MLS-affiliated and independent clubs will join in the years ahead, including Carolina Core FC in 2024 and Cleveland in 2025. The majority of MLS NEXT Pro matches in 2023 will be available to watch live and on-demand on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app as part of the groundbreaking partnership between Apple and MLS. For more information about MLS NEXT Pro, visit mlsnextpro.com.