IBM Watson: The Smart Sports Maven

November 19, 2018

The US does not follow soccer, ahem, football. The rest of the world, however, does. Whether you call it soccer or football, it is the most popular sport in the world and the World Cup requires a lot of power and technology to cover it. The Medium’s Global Editors Network explores how in the article, “Covering The World Cup Cup 2018 With AI And Automation.”

During the World Cup, fans are ravenous for information on their teams and news networks use automation and artificial intelligence to keep up with the demand. Individual networks each did something new and amazing to cover the World Cup. The UK Times launched a World Cup Alexa Skill, Fox Sports partnered with IBM Watson to make AI-powered highlight videos, and Le Figaro created automated visual summaries.

Fox Sports’s AI video highlight machine was amazing. Watson used its AI to allow users to create on-demand videos using World Cup clips from 1958 to the present.

“According to Engadget, there are 300 archived World Cup matches that Watson’s AI technology is capable of analyzing. More specifically, the IBM Watson Video Enrichment, a programmatic metadata tool, analyses the footage to create metadata that identifies what is happening in a scene at any given moment with an associated timestamp. ‘In essence, Watson Video Enrichment acts as an automatic metadata generator that is trained to use clues, such as facial characteristics, the presence of a red card, crowd noise, what’s being said by announcers and other characteristics, to create metadata that makes the massive amount of soccer video searchable’, wrote Phil Kurz on TVTechnology.”

Le Figaro’s innovation to generate World Cup visual summaries worked faster than any human. Dubbed Mondial Stories, the automated stories provide all the information someone needs to review a game as if they had watched the entire match.

Automation is a great tool, because the summaries do not require extra expenses, have low maintenance, it is an objective tool, and has potential for future sponsorships.

AI and automation cannot fully take over the human component of reporting on games, because they are just machines. However, they can enhance the viewer experience, increase commerce opportunities, and there are other ideas that have yet to be explored.

Whitney Grace, November 19, 2018

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