Every Second Counts

The Internet of Things and connected devices are well-documented for their applicability in homes, and offices, and remote locations. Recently however, the National Basketball Association brokered a deal with Swiss watch manufacturer Tissot to implement new shot clocks and control panels in arenas league-wide that are able to be controlled from a single location within the building. Long before the Warriors were setting three-point records or superstars were joining forces to create super teams, there was a time where the league did not have a shot clock.

Initially introduced in 1954, the modern shot clock has been in use since 1976. The NBA uses a 24-second shot clock, based on a mathematical equation in regard to points scored and average possessions per game. The shot clock was introduced to speed up the pace of play; prior to the shot clock, and even at the high school level today, teams will pass the ball around until they are able to get the look they want before shooting. As a result of the shot clock, each team has more possessions and in turn more points are scored. The introduction of the shot clock was one catalyst for the growth of basketball; fans are more engaged as the faster pace is more exciting for observers.

While the modern shot clock has been in use since 1976, NBA teams were free to acquire the physical clock from any vendor of their choosing. Over the past few months the NBA has been working with Tissot to develop an improved shot clock, scoreboard operation, and sell NBA and team watches available for sale to fans. Tissot was able to create a shot clock and scoreboard operation device that is reliant on a single touch screen that would be in the hands of someone at the scorer’s table. Tissot’s touch screen would be able to send information to any screen in the arena whether it’s the shot clock, the center scoreboard, or one of the ribbon boards. The ease of use and ability to control multiple boards gives operators the flexibility of showing more information to make the game more interactive to fans seated in the arena.

In addition to being more interactive, the new shot clocks improve the fan experience. Most people consider the seats behind the basket, or the baseline, as the worst seats. This is for two reasons: it is often difficult to see action on the other side of the court, and the shot clock is an obstruction. The modern shot clock is a large opaque black box, making some spots on the court difficult to see from certain vantage points behind the basket. Tissot’s newest creation is a transparent glass shot clock which would only light up when in use, giving fans a significantly less obstructed view of the action.

While the fan experience will be significantly improved with the new clocks, the NBA teams and arenas will have uniformity across the league for the first time. Every arena will have the Tissot shot clocks. However, the biggest benefit for the teams is the technology integrated within the new clocks. Tissot’s newest venture is loaded with smart technology as the league will be able to send technology updates, patches, and new features for download directly to the clocks in each arena because they are on the same platform.

Once seen as a clock to speed up gameplay, it is safe to say the latest version of the shot clock is another example of the intersection of sports and technology. With the ability to control multiple screens, and reduce obstruction for fans, it appears that the new partnership between the NBA and Tissot will be a major success for all parties. In just 65 years, basketball has gone from having no shot clock to having one that can receive downloadable updates, patches and new features.  When the new shot clocks are rolled out full time in October at the start of the NBA season, basketball fans will see a noticeable improvement in game experience, and it will be safe to say the NBA-Tissot partnership is a slam dunk.