When Juan Martin del Potro faced Dominic Thiem on Day 8 of the US Open, die-hard tennis lovers might have been excited, but it didn’t have the hallmarks of a “must see” event for casual fans. Few expected del Potro, ranked 24th, to advance.
But when he staged one of the best comebacks in US Open history, everyone wanted to see how it was done. And within minutes, they were able to, thanks to IBM Watson powering US Open 2017 highlights.
Watson assembled a clip reel within five minutes of the end of every match at this year’s Open, making highlights and key moments available to fans two to 10 hours more quickly than during previous years. The event marked the official launch of IBM Watson Media, a new business unit that leverages Watson’s leading AI capabilities to meet the future needs of broadcasters and their audiences.
If any activity is tailor-made for streaming video, it’s esports. Competitive video game playing (and watching) is poised to be a $1.5 billion industry by 2020, according to market research firm NewZoo.
While online streaming services like Twitch and YouTube built a loyal audience of viewers, the lure of ad dollars has attracted the interest of mainstream broadcasters, too. Several major networks, including ESPN, NBC and TBS, regularly air esports programming. In recent months, tournaments have popped up on The Disney Channel, and Nickelodeon got into the game in June by joining a $15 million investment in esports host Super League Gaming.
It’s setting up what could be an epic battle between old media and new media. The streaming services run by Amazon (Twitch) and Google (YouTube) helped build a following for competitive video games, but now traditional networks want to use their built-in audience to lure gaming companies (and leverage their own digital platforms to lure the audience that’s already addicted to these competitions). What’s more, the audience is already proving larger than traditional sports: the audience for the 2015 League of Legends world finals topped that of the 2016 NBA Finals by 5 million viewers.
New innovations constantly change how fans watch their favorite live sports. Integral elements of today’s broadcasts like slow motion and instant replay didn’t exist before the 1950s. On-screen graphics are even more recent: Imagine watching a soccer game without the score in the top left corner of the screen, or a football game without the yellow first down line.
Now, emerging technologies like 3D and virtual reality are giving fans an entirely new perspective—and they may forever change how fans expect to experience the action.
But the real game-changer for live sports broadcasting is artificial intelligence. AI will not only affect viewers, but also advertisers, broadcasters—and even the athletes themselves. It will enrich video content with better insights and better recommendations, as outlined in this Uncovering Dark Video Data with AI white paper. Soon, we may not recognize a sporting event without it.
While the audience for the biggest football event of the year—111 million strong—was on par with previous broadcasts, the game itself posted its lowest ratings in the past three years. Coming off of a less-than-stellar regular season, which saw a 9 percent drop in ratings, it’s safe to say that viewers felt something was lacking.
One factor that might account for this dip is a lack of personalized content and opportunities for interactivity. Everyone saw the same game in the same way, and while that may have been the standard up until now, artificial intelligence is raising the bar.
IBM Watson is no stranger to the sports world. Just this year Watson did sports highlights analysis and assembled highlight reels for the Master’s Tournament. It also predicted match outcomes during Wimbledon. And had Watson had a hand in the biggest football game of the year, FOX may have been able to deliver a more engaging broadcast for viewers—and even been alerted to lulls in audience attention to counteract them in real time. Artificial intelligence has the power to change the live broadcasting game. Here’s a closer look at what the NFL’s big game might have looked like with Watson in play.
Related to these AI advancements, be sure to read our Outsmart your Video Competition with Watson white paper on how Watson will be used to unlock deep insights from untapped video content you’re generating.
Have you ever watched a sad movie on TV that was suddenly interrupted by an upbeat, loud ad? How did it make you feel? Did you suddenly find yourself switching gears emotionally? Did the ad seem jarring and inappropriate? Did you wind up resenting the advertiser?
There’s ample evidence to back up the belief that video advertising performs better when it aligns with the consumer’s mood. A 2015 report from Oxford University, for instance, showed that upbeat, cheerful ads that ran during a moment of tension during a movie made far less of an impact with consumers, leading to diminished brand recall and shorter viewing times. The swing in emotions causes viewers to enter a state of “deactiviation,” marked by lower physical and cognitive activity.
Unfortunately, few advertisers are taking context into account. But they have the power to, using contextual video advertising that is enhanced by cognitive capabilities. AI tools and precision targeting are allowing advertisers to better sync their ads with the surrounding content—and the viewer’s mood. Read on to get a sense of where this market is and could be headed. Also, be sure to check out the Outsmart your Video Competition with Watson white paper too for an idea on how IBM’s Watson will start to change this landscape.
Verizon could be the latest to enter the fray in the well-populated streaming media services market. This summer, the telecommunications giant has potential plans to launch a new Netflix competitor. But there’s a problem: according to Derek O’Donnell, senior research analyst at Gartner, the average limit for subscriptions to online streaming services is three, and between Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, that leaves little room for another behemoth.
So how do streaming media services compete? The instinctive answer: get more data on your customers. But that’s not quite sufficient.
“There’s no one on the planet that has more data than the streaming services other than Google and Apple,” says Dan Rayburn, a consultant and speaker on the streaming video business. Essentially, Netflix and friends are already drowning in the same quantity of data as one another. “They obviously all know what their customers are watching and then use that data on the content they feature. It’s not like one has more data than the other.”
For streaming media services, finding a competitive advantage when they have the same data as their competitors means getting creative with that data—and using it to make smart decisions that will benefit their bottom line. While there are many ways to do this, here are a few top tips. For those looking to get an idea of how the market might change, though, and give themselves an edge, be sure to check out Outsmart your Video Competition with Watson white paper as well.