We are awash in analytic solutions, measurement and analysis in sport. From the grassroots to the NFL, data consumption for fans, teams and leagues has never been more diverse or more scrutinized. Where are the breakthroughs coming from and who is helping shape the field of analytics play?
Hudl is one of the leaders in revolutionizing the way coaches and athletes prepare for and stay ahead of the competition. Founded by David Graff, Brian Kaiser and John Wirtz in 2006, Hudl now offers the tools to edit and share video, study associated play diagrams, and create quality highlight reels for entertainment and recruiting purposes. The whole experience is available online, giving coaches and athletes secure access at home and on the go. With more than 150,000 active teams and nearly 5.5 million unique users, Hudl has become the standard-bearer for game film solutions for teams, from the smallest youth organizations to professional franchises in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
While football (soccer) has been and will continue to be a big growth engine, the company has built software for every level of sport, from wrestling to baseball. The market has responded to their growth, recently closing on $30 million in funding from a world-class team of investors, including Accel, Jeff and Tricia Raikes, and Nelnet.
What’s next? We asked Derek Hernandez, Editorial Lead at Hudl, for some thoughts.
The analytics space is very crowded, what is the key element that sets Hudl apart from its competitors?
Hudl gives power to the coaching team, so they can define their own analysis process and focus on what’s important to the clubs coach’s philosophy. We are not a cookie cutter analytics firm.
What is the biggest area of growth among its current clients?
The biggest area for growth is in players. Players are hungry for quality feedback, from data and from video, on any device they choose.
What is the biggest challenge in the use of analytics today in all areas of sport? Too much? Integrity issues? Duplicity?
You always have to bring analysis back to athlete learning and development. Lots of companies or people can provide analysis, but it is very challenging to build a process that specifically helps the teams and players develop.
How has the work with clubs like Lincoln City (their 2016/17 FA Cup run, reaching the FA Cup Quarter Final, beating Premier League opponents in the process, before ultimately losing to eventual competition winners Arsenal, was landmark) changed the business model for Hudl?
Not really, we love what those guys are doing, but we have always had a focus on all sections of football, from the very top to Sunday league. We have customers at all stages. Lincoln have a great outlook on video, data and most importantly the way it is used in the coaches process.
Are there key areas targeted for expansion?
We see lots of teams from the lower ends of the football pyramid signing up to Hudl..com, and it’s a huge area we are investing in, We have a team of people in the UK and Germany helping coaches get started with video analysis.
The use of analytics is so well accepted in the US. How has Hudl’s work expanded into new geographic areas and sports and has there been any push back?
Uptake in new areas has been excellent. We are really pleased with the progress so far. You have to remember that analysis does not have to be in-depth and time consuming. It can be just reviewing key moments of the game.
Where would you like to see the company expand to in the next 2-3 years?
We have work left to do in football, and several countries we would like to expand into. We already have lots of rugby and hockey clubs using Hudl, and I can see that growing.