Intel Corp. is exploring a sale of its sports division, a unit that focuses on immersive video for leagues, broadcasters and fans, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.
The Intel Sports Group’s main initiative is True View, which builds three-dimensional, 360-degree video through an array of cameras installed in a stadium or arena. The unit works with more than two dozen teams across the NFL and NBA, along with a handful of European soccer clubs.
The computer processor manufacturer, which has a market cap of about $230 billion, has retained PJT Partners to assist with the possible sale, according to the people, who were granted anonymity because the discussions are private. Possible suitors could include tech companies, media platforms, or one of the many sports technology SPACs still seeking a target.
Intel said in a statement that the company “declined to comment on rumors and speculation.” A representative for PJT Partners also declined to comment.
Intel formed its sports group in 2016 around the company’s acquisitions of Israeli immersive video platform Replay Technologies, and virtual reality start-up Voke. The VR platform generated a lot of initial buzz (Intel partnered with Turner in 2017 to present NBA games), but Intel gradually deemphasized its sports VR work as the technology fell out of favor more broadly.
True View is the modern iteration of the tech acquired from Replay Technologies. A video platform that uses dozens of cameras installed in a venue to create immersive replays, the product’s applications range from coaching and scouting to social media content and broadcast enhancements. Sports fans likely recognize the technology from its use during recent Super Bowls.
Anyone interested in buying the sports group will likely see more value in the future of the technology than the version that exists right now, according to Kyle Bunch, VP managing director of Global Sports Venture Studio, which has worked with Intel in the past. It’s unclear, for example, if the hardware component of installing dozens of on-site cameras is the future for immersive video.
“The technology will potentially get really interesting as things like 5G come on line and there’s more ability to take that content, process it in real-time, and distribute it on a timeframe closer to live,” Bunch said. “I’d say there’s a good chance this ends up as an intellectual property, patents and technology acquisition, more than Intel’s True View two years from now just being rebranded but looking the same as it does now.”
Changes in sports media and technology could create even more applications. Streaming services are rushing to give viewers personalized options for how they watch games; many younger viewers prefer packaged recaps to the live games themselves. Meanwhile, the rapid growth of NFTs could provide additional use cases.
True View is installed in 19 NFL stadiums, and roughly a dozen soccer venues in Europe, including the homes of Liverpool, Arsenal, Barcelona and Real Madrid. It is also used in some NBA arenas.
In addition to True View, Intel does work with the Olympics—it is part of the IOC’s global sponsorship tier, with initiatives that include 3D athlete tracking, VR training, facial recognition software and 5G infrastructure. It also provides processors and other technology for esports. (Those initiatives are not directly part of the Intel Sports Group).
Intel doesn’t break out the sports group’s finances on any of its public disclosures.
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