Update: June 20, 2017, 5:27 p.m. EDT This story was updated to better reflect how the Timberwolves players will use Fitbit’s technology .
Fitbit is finally making the leap to the major leagues.
Fitbit and the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves have signed a deal to build the wearable maker simply the seventh jersey patch sponsor in the NBA, as the league experiments with a brand new ad possibility. It’s the first time a wearable company has paired with an NBA team, devoting the association its first official experience with fitness tracking.
New jerseys with the Fitbit spots will debut subsequently this year during two expo plays against the reigning champ Golden State Warriors in October at the 2017 NBA Global Games in China.
The three-year deal entails more than only put a spot on some game uniforms, though. Fitbit will be the official wearable and sleep tracker for the three teams in the organization, the NBA Timberwolves, WNBA Lynx, and the G-League( formerly D-League) Iowa Wolves.
The musicians at the NBA level won’t wear the fitness trackers on the court the NBA has strict rules about what is allowed during play-act but musicians will be able to use the activity trackers, along with insight from the team’s qualifying personnel, to amp up their recuperation regimens between matchups. Everyday employees within the Timberwolves organization will be encouraged to start using the wearables, too.
Timberwolves CEO Ethan Casson told Mashable that the organization was looking for more in a sponsor than merely the most important one bidder. “We’re aroused about having a partner that wanted to collaborate and innovate together, ” he said.
The NBA’s framework for the new sponsorships merely allows for three-year deals, but according to Casson and Fitbit CMO Tim Rosa, both organizations have wider ranging plans for existing cooperation. As the members of the deal, the G-League Iowa Wolves will be used as an “R& D incubator” for Fitbit to test out new employs for the fitness and sleep tracking tech.
“There’s a little bit more flexibility there to experiment and go deeper than at the NBA level, ” Rosa said. “Being able to have access to some of the fittest athletes in “the worlds” on a regular basis to look at how sleep and hydration impact recovery is really exciting for the athletes, coaches, and our research teams.”
Minnesota’s devotees will have a shot to get in on some new fit tracking possibilities, too. “The fan experience is going to be a big focus for us, and we’re going to try a lot of different things, ” Casson told.
That experience will start at the Timberwolves’ home arena, the Target Center, during plays. Fitbit is working to integrate its tech into the concession stands. When devotees buy snacks, they’ll have the option to automatically add the meat and its calorie and nutrition information to Fitbit’s food log, which Rosa said will be a first for the company.
Further out, Rosa said the fan experience could get even better if Fitbit adds near field communication( NFC ) tech to its product line, which allows for instant buy and even more interactivity between devices. He had no more specifics to share on that topic, but if Fitbit is really looking to get into the smartwatch space, NFC could be a valuable and useful feature.
Fitbit will likewise look to intend community challenges specifically for Timberwolves devotees, which could potentially even rope in the players to give fans a chance to compete with their NBA favorites. They likely won’t make one of those a dunk competition, though, merely to be fair.
The sponsorship dedicates the NBA its first official foray into fitness tracking. While players have snuck machines onto the court, the league’s collective bargaining agreement( CBA) only lets teams to ask musicians to use trackers in practice.
Pro basketball is slow to adopt the trend is comparable to other leagues. The MLB cleared a few wearables for on-field use this season, including WHOOP, a high-level fitness tracker that is also now the official wearable of the NFL Players Association. But these bargains are just the start. As the devices become more advanced and players’ educate regimen depend on them for more insights, wearable tech will become an integral part of high-level athletics.
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