SMT Powers Final Four Live Stats for CBS for 14th Straight Year
With SportsMEDIA Technology (SMT) headquartered in college-basketball-crazed Durham, NC, it’s of little surprise that the Final Four is Lee Brinson’s favorite work event of the year.
Brinson, operations producer for special events at SMT, has, arguably, the best seat in the house this weekend, sitting at center court just two rows from the floor. And even though it’s all business come game time on Saturday and Monday nights, the neatness of the moment is not lost on him.
“It’s a really different perspective being this close to the action,” says Brinson “You can actually hear everything the players are saying to each other, what the coach is yelling at them. It’s pretty cool.”
So just how did he score these sweet seats? Consider Brinson the Final Four’s unofficial official scorer.
As has been the case since 2000, SMT is not at the Final Four to provide their advanced graphics software. Instead, the company’s talents and technologies will be leveraged into providing CBS Sports with its own set of live statistics for the broadcasters and production crew.
With a headset on, Brinson takes his spot just behind the scorer’s table and calls out each stat individually back to the truck where his partner, Kevin Wang, is standing by at a pair of computer monitors ready to enter all of the data into SMT’s statistical software.
“As quickly as I say it,” says Brinson, “Kevin gets it into the live box score.”
CBS finds value is having its own scoring team as they’d prefer not to wait on the NCAA to provide their official stats. So, in essence, the stats that CBS Sports provides aren’t official at all. That is, until,Wang updates his numbers if there are any discrepancies when the NCAA’s official log comes through.
“Stats are always at the discretion of the scorer,” says Brinson, who noted he has worked extensively with the team that is scoring this Final Four for the NCAA. “So the way that I view something and the way that the guy sitting in front of me views something, sometimes can differ.”
Wang and SMT’s scoring technology – along with the rest of the CBS graphics bench – is located inside one of F&F’s “B” units on-site in the truck compound. As the stats are called into his ear by Brinson over his headset, Wang enters each play – basket, steal, rebound, etc. – and updates the overall box score being maintained by SMT.
All of that data is instantly pumped into the three Vizrt graphics systems that are positioned across the graphics bench. Having that information quickly allows for CBS’s graphics team to quickly update statistically graphics into the score bug during game action.
SMT is also directly patched into the stadium scoreboard from the trailor. They take the official game clock into their system and give CBS a synced-up digital game clock for the score bug.
SMT worked the entire NCAA Tournament for CBS. So now with only one game at a time to cover, the Final Four is actually a significantly easier process for the SMT team.
“What we call the ‘big weekend’ is that first weekend of the Tournament,” says Brinson, who is working his sixth consecutive Final Four. “We’ve got eight sites and eight remote teams out it the field, and all those guys are piping all their data back to [SMT Headquarters in] Durham which is than fed to New York [for CBS], Atlanta [for Turner], and CBS Sports Network.”
SMT’s data is also a key piece of an interactive touchscreen bracket that CBS Sports Network has been using for their Tournament coverage. All stats are up-to-the-minute and when a team advances, SMT’s data will advance them on the screen automatically and hosts can access all of the stats by tapping on that game on the screen.
A lot of time and training goes into ensuring that the chemistry of the spotter-logger teams SMT sends out into the field for the Tournament is strong. Before being booked to a game, a staff member will have to undergo a series of practice games at the SMT offices. To maintain chemistry, Brinson will typically try to keep pairings together.