Monday, July 11, 2011

Hudl + DSV = Winning!(?)

A seismic shockwave was sent through the sports video industry today when Hudl announced the acquisition of their main competitor DSV.

It is hard to imagine that when I started my coaching career eight years ago, we were watching film on VHS, and barely doing any video breakdown. With the advancements that Hudl has made, coaches can now watch game film anywhere at any time. I wrote about the amazing iPad app developed by Hudl, and I have heard whispers that phone apps for the iPhone and Droid are not far away.

What does this mean for the future of sports editing? There are definitely many positives to this acquisition, but there are a few unknowns that make me weary of this change.


1. Film exchange

Again, I can't believe that five years ago coaches were logging significant time and miles meeting at the McDonalds halfway between schools to exchange film. Hudl solved that problem for us, but only with other Hudl teams. I know many teams around here had just invested in DSV, and did not want to make the switch to Hudl. That meant we still had to swap DVDs on Saturday mornings, while trading with another Hudl team took less than a minute on Friday night.

In their press release, Hudl says that DSV has a "customer base of 3,000 high schools." That is a huge chunk of the market that will now be added in to the Hudl family. This will put a lot of pressure on non-Hudl schools to make the switch over to Hudl. Who wants to be the only school in the league only exchanging DVDs?

If Hudl puts together incentives for all league schools to jump on board, they will quickly lock up many of the schools still reluctant to switch over to Hudl.

2. Innovation

I was a DSV loyalist until I discovered Hudl three years ago. I didn't even want to look at another video editing system because I loved DSV so much. It has many great features, and it is no accident that they were the industry leader up until the last few years.

They were the first to develop a system of auto-cutting plays from the record button being pressed on your camera. They came up with a slick intercutting feature that matched up your press box and end zone views. Their tendency reports are phenomenal. Truth be told, many of the features in Hudl today were inspired by the work that DSV did.

Unfortunately, the DSV system was completely tied in to the one or two computers you had it installed on. If other coaches wanted to watch cut-ups, they had to watch it on their own computer. They added DSV Anywhere a few years ago to try to keep up with Hudl, but that web-based product was really no better than watching game film on YouTube. They were never able to catch up to the things that Hudl was doing with their completely web-based product.

What will happen to DSV's developers and brain-trust? Even though Hudl has a phenomenal team of developers, it is a huge bonus that Hudl will now have access to the brain-trust from DSV that has been developing their product for a decade.

3. Recruiting

DSV and Hudl not only service high school teams, but they also have many big-name Division-I and NFL clients on their roster. This means that the collegiate DSV teams will also likely switch over to Hudl.

One of the best features of Hudl is how you can create individual highlight videos for players, and e-mail it off to college recruiters. With more college coaches becoming familiar with using Hudl, it will make it even easier to get your players exposure through Hudl's recruiting packages.


1. Costumer support

With only a month left before the football season begins, Hudl just opened up a huge can of worms.

All current DSV clients who have paid their service contracts will automatically become absorbed into Hudl. This means that DSV clients will spend the next month importing game film and terminology to Hudl, and Hudl will have their hands full training 3,000 new school. Multiply that 3-5 coaches per staff! This was not the ideal time to make this transition.

Hudl has prided themselves on their customer support, which has always been fantastic. What will Friday nights look like now with all of the new clients calling in to trouble-shoot? I am sure Hudl has a gameplan for all of this, but it is going to be a huge undertaking.

2. Consumers

One of the most attractive things about Hudl is their pricing. While DSV had a one-time cost of approximately $5,000+, Hudl only costs $800 a year for their base package. Their price simply can't be beat.

With DSV out of the way, CoachComm and APEX stand as the only viable competitors in the high school market. I may be biased, but neither one of those programs even comes close to matching Hudl's features and pricing.

The question becomes: Where will Hudl go from here? They have already shown that they are the top innovator in the industry. Will they continue to push the boundaries of innovation, while maintaining the same affordable pricing?

A little friendly competition is always a good thing for the consumers.

What do you think this means for the world of sports video editing? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. Like you, Coach, I was a big DSV supporter until HUDL came along. I share most of your excitement and concerns. I'm also interested to see if the integration of some DSV features helps HUDL create a play drawing/scout card feature for which many HUDL users have been asking. Also, (and I'm scared to write this for fear of jinxing it) could there be a HUDL cowboy remote in the near future?

    The decline in competition in the market concerns me too. The great thing about
    DSV in the college market was that they provided an alternative to the XO's
    monopoly. If I remember correctly, XO's bought out both Apex and Pinnacle
    years ago, giving them a large chunk of the small school market. HUDL already
    has a partnership with XO's, and I've heard a rumor that it's only a matter of time
    before XO's acquires HUDL. That scenario would create a monopoly larger than
    the one XO's held in the college market a few years ago. But, that's nothing more than a rumor.

  2. Awesome, Coach. Pretty much my story as well. This will only make Hudl better.

  3. Thanks for the post and the comments. To answer some of your questions:

    1) We know that it would have been better to complete this acquisition earlier in the year, but we didn’t want another season to pass with a fragmented market when it comes to exchange and recruiting. We’ve built up our team and have a plan in place so that we ensure that the same level of Hudl quality will be delivered for all of our coaches that call (old or new). Anyone who is using DSV now can continue using DSV and if they paid for support already or purchase a Hudl subscription, they will be able to call or email a team of former DSV employees serving as our DSV experts.

    2) As far as competition, we will be relying on coaches like you to keep us honest. We have a engineering team of 16+ that are antsy to keep pushing Hudl to be even better at saving coaches time and helping them win. We've grown that team a lot over the past few months and we are not slowing down and have a massive amount of innovation already in the pipeline including mobile, recruiting, streamlined breakdown, better reports, and even cowboy remotes (we hear you @Joe). On the pricing front, we are excited to find ways to make Hudl even more affordable. We will be rolling out a Hudl Exchange package this fall that will be $200 per year per team.

    3) Regarding XOS, I can debunk any rumors of an acquisition. We are excited to be in this space for the long haul and plan to be working with coaches and innovating on Hudl for many years to come.

    Thanks again, Coach. Feel free to post any additional questions for me here. I'll try to circle back over the next few days to answer any questions you guys post.

    -David Graff
    CEO, Hudl