NBA Digital’s New Automated Video Clipping Solution Generates Real-time Customizable Content
When it comes to digital video, few do it better than the NBA. Last season, the league’s Website and mobile application generated a staggering 4.2 billion video views. During the 2015 NBA Finals, the league pulled in 18 million video views just on Facebook alone. So it’s hard to believe that the NBA is poised to exponentially increase the amount of video content it creates every day.
Through a new multiyear partnership with Israel-based tech company WSC Sports Technologies, NBA Digital will use an automated video-highlight–creation solution to deliver more customized video content to fans around the world.
“There was the huge demand for video content that already existed,” says Mike Allen, SVP, digital products and emerging technology, NBA. “So we were eager to figure out a solution to help create even more content and, frankly, help cater content to different fans around the world; understanding that a fan in Germany may be seeking different content than a fan in Brazil.”
The customizable content is valuable for a league that treasures its international reach. For example, earlier this season, when Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry went off for 53 points on Oct. 31 and San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker scored just six points the next night, the highlight clip of Parker, a Frenchman, pulled in more views than Curry did on the NBA’s French platforms .
The platform behind it all is WSC’s AVGEN (Automatic Video Generator) and Clipro technology, which the NBA will use to automatically generate customized highlights in near real time. The digital team is able to establish a set of predefined queries — or “Rules” as they are called in the system — to tell the platform when to cut a highlight. For example, the league can tell the system, anytime a player scores more than 20 points, cut a highlight. More than 600 of these rules are already in place.
The NBA has been experimenting with WSC for almost two years, running use-cases with the NBA D-League and WNBA. Full use on NBA games began earlier this year, and, since opening night, the platform has created more than 20,000 highlight clips. Naturally, not all of those clips are published for fans to view, but it’s a wealth of new content for NBA content editors to curate.
“We are blown away by what this technology can do, in a sense of the amount of content it could create and the amount of resources it saved us to create it,” says Allen.
The system uses three layers to analyze videos and determine when to cut clips: it studies the video using on-screen graphics, reads the audio responding to such clues as crowd reaction and when the announcers are talking, and takes in real-time statistical data to identify the time, score, and player around any given moment in the game. Allen also notes that the software is “remarkably good” at identifying the proper in and out points of a highlight.
Eighteen international versions of NBA.com (and their accompanying apps) are in line to use the service, as well as 18 of the league’s franchises. The customized video content and highlight packages with WSC will be featured across the NBA’s digital and social assets, including the league’s 18 international Web destinations, many NBA team sites, NBA.com/Stats, NBADLeague.com, and WNBA.com.