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Sportvision gains Coachs Edge

Sports production enhancement firm Sportvision Inc. has acquired Coach's Edge, a Lawrence, Kan.-based supplier of computer-animation technology for Internet and television sports coverage.

New York City-based Sportvision provides virtual first-down-line graphics for football coverage on ESPN, ABC and FOX and has begun producing live Webcasts of international "Ironman Triathlon" competitions.

Coach's Edge is known for its Virtual Playbook technology, which uses 3-D models to represent athletes'moves. Virtual Playbook has been seen on various Web sites for NCAA basketball coverage and used extensively by CBS for college and NFL football as well as the NCAA tournament. Coach's Edge has also created animations for CBS's coverage of the U.S. Open tennis tournament and NASCAR auto racing.

"What they do better than anybody in the industry is provide a very clear analysis of plays and strategy," says Sportvision CEO Bill Squadron, citing the 3-D models that Coach's Edge created for the Jumbotron for Super Bowl XXXIV.

Terms of the deal between the two privately held companies were not disclosed, although Sportvision says the Coach's Edge acquisition coincides with an upcoming third round of venture-capital funding. Sportvision closed a $9.3 million second round last July, picking up Intel, Bay Partners, Prospect Street Ventures, Prudential Securities and RRE Investors as investors. At the time, it announced a new focus on Internet, electronic gaming and new-media applications. That trend is reinforced by the Coach's Edge acquisition.

"The emphasis of Coach's Edge's business has been the Web, and we've been putting increasing resources there," Squadron says. Although more than half of Sportvision's current revenue comes from television applications, he considers electronic games and interactive applications "the fastest-growing part of the business." Coach's Edge should help in that regard, especially since the company has existing relationships with game developers Electronic Arts and Sega.

Coach's Edge technology, says Coach's Edge Executive Vice President Jeff Jonas, should make Sportvision "more of a multimedia play," creating scalable graphics that work for both television and the Internet.