Fox Sports Teams With IBM Watson to Use Artificial Intelligence for FIFA World Cup

IBM is also working on AI applications for Hollywood, including for film editing.
Courtesy of Fox Sports

Fox Sports has tapped into the potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver the innovative FIFA World Cup Highlight Machine, available through its Fox Sports App and FoxSports.com.

A collaboration with IBM, the Highlight Machine is enabled by the IBM Watson computer technology. It analyzes video from the FIFA World Cup archive, as well as 2018 footage, and extracts data, allowing users to search for goals, red cards, players by name and the like.

It is about creating a "compelling user experience around highlights, not just in 2018 but also previously, at leat 50 years," says David Mowrey, head of product and development at IBM Watson Media.

More typically, gathering this sort of data would be a task done manually by employees, but considering the scope of the World Cup, that would be impractical, and arguably impossible, Mowrey explains, because of the enormous volume of video that is involved. Mowrey tells The Hollywood Reporter that the 2014 World Cup tournament alone represents roughly 98,000 hours of video content, including the matches, press conferences and other material.

The exec adds that Watson also can deliver "insight" that’s "hard to do manually. We can analyze the audio track and provide a transcript or generate closed captions."

Mowrey confirmed that his unit is working with other businesses in the media and entertainment industry "to integrate not only these tools but other products such as Watson Captions (a tools that uses AI to automate the captioning process."

Earlier this year, IBM was the official AI partner for the 60th annual Grammy Awards, and the Recording Academy used IBM Watson’s capabilities to process roughly five and a half hours of red-carpet live coverage and an estimated 100,000 images.

Looking ahead, Mowrey tells THR that Watson technology could be used to catalog dailies for film editors, which is currently a manual process handled by assistant editors. But he also was quick to emphasize that “it’s about working with the editor, not replacing the editors. [Watson] can augment the work, so they can be faster and more efficient.”