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NBA's new deal means more highlight videos for international fans

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The NBA has 100 international players from 37 different countries, but its new dream is to make everything feel local. To help fans see all of their favorite players every night, the NBA is working with WSC Sports Technologies to analyze games as they’re happening and create customized highlight reels for individual players (or other criteria) almost instantly.

Aviv Arnon, WSC’s head of business development, spoke with Digital Trends about the Automatic Video Generator (AVGEN) technology, which automatically performs video, audio, and statistical analysis of near real-time live footage, indexing and ranking each play for later usage and highlight packages.

It works by listening to the audio waves from the game to determine if a particular play elicited an energized crowd response, beat the buzzer, resulted in a timely foul, or has any other triggers that indicate excitement. So, if Golden State Warriors starting point guard (and reigning MVP) Steph Curry scores 40 points, but a seemingly simple layup capped off a 15-0 game-ending run, AVGEN would determine the layup came during that run by the statistics. Then, by analyzing crowd reaction, it would rank it higher than a spectacular three-pointer that happened during a less pivotal point in the game.

AVGEN User Interface

The technology also lets the NBA set up “rules,” or parameters for the system to select specified plays from certain players. Pre-setting all Golden State Warrior games to “Steph Curry three-pointers” will generate a daily video montage of him averaging more than five three-pointers each game. NBA reps inform Digital Trends that, without this new technology, the league would not have the resources to manually create personalized highlight packages for its growing fan base.

The partnership has already shown to be prolific. The NBA has 600 rules set, and 20,000 highlight packages were generated in the first six weeks of the season. From just the eight games played on November 30, 593 videos were generated. A highlight package of San Antonio Spur starting point guard  Tony Parker’s six-point performance against the Boston Celtics on November 1 had more views in France than Steph Curry’s 53-point performance against the New Orleans Pelicans the day before, which is still a record for points in a game this season.

AVGEN is showing that the best player is not always the most popular when your fan base encompasses a large portion of the world.

20,000 highlight packages were generated in the first six weeks of the season.

Currently, 18 NBA teams use the technology, and the majority of highlight packages from the NBA’s Developmental League and WNBA uses WSC’s technology. Highlight packages generated by AVGEN are then sent out to the NBA’s broadcasting affiliates from across the globe. While the technology is only used as a means for the NBA to provide more video content to its fans, reps from the league hint that a future where fans can use the tool to create customize searches themselves is a possibility.

 NBA Senior Vice President, Digital Media Melissa Brenner told Digital Trends we should not expect so much specialized NBA video content that live viewing becomes unnecessary.

“We don’t want to cannibalize the actual viewing of the games or people going to the game,” she said. The NBA also asserts the partnership with WSC will not affect the league’s relationship with Turner Sports, which manages the NBA’s digital assets and recently helped broadcast the first live NBA game in virtual reality.

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