Someday a fan of the Los Angeles Clippers might get to see the game through the eyes of Blake Griffin or Chris Paul, or call up random plays throughout a game and analyze how they were executed — if former Microsoft CEO and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer gets his way.
Ballmer, clad in a red Clippers polo shirt, spoke with his trademark exuberance today at GeekWire’s inaugural Sports Tech Summit, where he said his focus is big innovations that revolutionize the game for fans, coaches, players and other team personnel.
“How do you change the way the fan appreciates the game in the arena, outside the arena during the game and outside the arena between games?” Ballmer said.
The challenge, when it comes to the in-arena experience, is balancing technology and the on-court product. Ballmer said Clippers coach Doc Rivers is not a fan of smartphones in the arena because they take fan attention away from the game and cheering on the team.
Ballmer says there is only so much his team can do with the in-arena experience because it doesn’t own the building.
TV is another way the team can change the fan experience. The Clippers’ TV deal ended this season, and the team is reportedly looking at a tech-heavy “second screen” experience that could involve analytics paired with a streaming service separate from a game being broadcast on TV.
Ballmer did not go into detail about what he wants to see in the next TV deal. But he noted that the team is working with a company called Second Spectrum that has a machine learning-like platform for learning about the game. He said it will allow fans to dial up plays and see how they were defended and how likely they are to be successful. That kind of technology could be part of the “second screen” experience that could be a part of the next TV deal.
“The real objective isn’t just to take the existing experience and stream it,” Ballmer said. “The real opportunity is to, if you will, augment reality as people are watching the game. Can you put yourself in the position of Blake Griffin? What does the game in question look like in real time from his perspective? Can you sit on the shoulders of Chris Paul or DeAndre Jordan or even someone who plays for the other team? Can we allow you to do that?”