NEW YORK – The WNBA will use innovative next generation tracking technology at the inaugural WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game when it introduces real-time broadcast enhancements generated by wearable sensors and computer vision. The championship game between the Connecticut Sun and the Seattle Storm will stream on Amazon Prime Video from Footprint Center in Phoenix, Ariz., on Thursday, Aug. 12, beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET.
The WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game will be the first time the WNBA uses in-game wearables technology to provide unprecedented data such as how fast players sprint, how often they jump and how quickly they change direction. Kinexon Wearables will be worn in the waistband of the Nike uniform shorts. Along with the wearables, the WNBA will use optical tracking technology by Hawk-Eye that will generate 3D immersive highlights, which will be used in real time during the Amazon Prime Video broadcast. The combination of the technologies is expected to gather approximately 50 million data points during the game.
“Innovation is at the core of our inaugural Commissioner’s Cup – from the structure of our season to the broadcast of Cup games and now to piloting an advanced player tracking system through partnering with Kinexon and Hawk-Eye,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “We are also very proud to have incredible technology partners – including Microsoft, Oculus, SAP, ServiceNow and WNBA Changemakers AT&T and Google – who continue to play an integral role in bringing innovative elements to the WNBA.”
Looking forward to next season, besides AT&T bringing its 5G technology to the league, the WNBA is planning to utilize Microsoft Azure and its capabilities to bring together the data from the wearables and optical tracking system to generate new and unique insights, including next generation basketball metrics that will bring fans more insights about the players and the game. Microsoft is the WNBA’s Official Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Partner, and an Official Cloud Partner.
For this historic 25th season, the WNBA launched the Commissioner’s Cup in-season competition that designates a portion of regular-season games in the first of half of the season as Commissioner’s Cup play. A prize pool of a half a million dollars will all be at stake when the two best teams in cup play, the Connecticut Sun and the Seattle Storm meet in the first ever WNBA Commissioner’s Cup on Aug. 12.
Exclusive live coverage of the Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game will be streamed by Amazon Prime Video as part of a multi-year agreement announced earlier this year that gives Prime Video international streaming rights to 16 WNBA games per season, including nine Commissioner Cup games and the Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game.
About the WNBA
Currently in its 25th season in 2021, the WNBA is a bold, progressive basketball league that stands for the power of women. Featuring 12 teams, the W is a unique sports property that combines competition and entertainment with a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and social responsibility. Through its world-class athletes, the in-game fan experience, TV and digital broadcasts, digital and social content and community outreach programs, the league celebrates and elevates the game of basketball and the culture around it.
In 2020, the WNBA and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) signed a groundbreaking eight-year CBA that charts a new course for women’s basketball – and women’s sports overall – with a focus on increased player compensation, improvements to the player experience, expanded career development opportunities and resources specifically tailored to the female professional athlete. Key elements of the agreement are supported through the league’s new platform, WNBA Changemakers, with AT&T, the WNBA’s Marquee Partner and inaugural Changemaker, as well as fellow inaugural Changemakers Deloitte and Nike, and the recent addition of Google. During the 2020 season, the WNBA and WNBPA launched the WNBA Justice Movement forming the Social Justice Council with the mission of being a driving force of necessary change and continuing conversations about race and voting rights, among other important societal issues.