IBM, FOX Sports AI technology team-up

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As fans around the world get ready to head to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, US broadcaster FOX Sports and IBM are launching what they describe as a historical AI collaboration across multiple FOX Sports properties and programming— the first of its kind for the broadcaster.

Beginning with the 2018 FIFA World Cup, FOX Sports is utlising IBM Watson Media’s specialised AI video technology and IBM iX’s proven expertise in designing user experiences to streamline production workflows to quickly classify, edit and access match highlights in near real-time. The advancements to production and distribution will enable FOX Sports to curate engaging video clips and match highlights so that sports enthusiasts back home don’t miss a single play, penalty kick, or goal.

The 2014 World Cup attracted 3.2 billion viewers on television and an estimated 280 million online viewers. Overall, 98,087 hours of video footage was broadcast to billions of fans. According to IBM, that requires a huge amount of processing power to streamline production workflows.

“We are delighted to be working with IBM, a leader in the technology space, to help enhance fan experiences and engagement,” declared  Sarah Tourville, SVP of Sports Brand Activations, FOX Sports. “Our collaboration affords us an opportunity to utilise their technology across multiple properties, helping to drive engagement for our tentpole events in non-traditional ways.”

The collaboration kicks off with the launch of The Highlight Machine. This interactive experience, designed and developed by IBM iX, one of the world’s largest digital agencies and global business design partners, empowers fans to browse FIFA’s entire archive of past matches and effortlessly create custom highlights from both the historic footage and content from the 2018 tournament. Fans can customise highlights by year, team, player, match, and play type within seconds and share their favorite FIFA moments with the world.

Football fans will be able to view and filter highlights by team, player, timeframe and type of gameplay like penalty kicks and goals. To extend the post-match conversation on social media, viewers can save, favorite and share highlight reels as well as catch up on games by speed watching critical, automatically generated clips.

“To maximise fan engagement, sports broadcasters are driven to showcase relevant gameplay as quickly as possible,” advised Kristen Lauria, General Manager of Watson Media and Content at IBM. “This drive is even more critical during tentpole sporting moments like the World Cup. Our project with FOX Sports emphasises IBM’s focus on aligning its technology to simplify how media brands can efficiently deliver winning fan experiences.”

IBM Watson Media provides extensive analysis of objects, people, words, concepts, emotional overtones, and character personalities that help media and entertainment companies deliver more relevant content to consumers, create better matches for advertisers, and add efficiency to video production and editing. Within the realm of sports entertainment specifically, IBM has collaborated with some of the biggest names in sports, and have brought the AI power of Watson to premier sporting events such as The Masters, Wimbledon, and the US Open.

The collaboration with FOX Sports follows the debut of its advanced portfolio of AI-powered cloud video technologies at the 2017 US Open. The US Open leveraged its Cognitive Highlights capabilities, to give tennis fans near-real time match highlights. IBM Watson Media’s video metadata enrichment service helped video editors quickly package and distribute highlight reels in record speeds by automatically identifying and ranking exciting match moments.


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