The new NBA streaming service, powered by Microsoft Azure cloud technology, is being billed by the league as a way to combine machine learning and artificial intelligence to deliver personalized and localized game broadcasts, along with additional content.
“This partnership with Microsoft will help us redefine the way our fans experience NBA basketball,” said Adam Silver, NBA commissioner. “Our goal, working with Microsoft, is to create customized content that allows fans — whether they are in an NBA arena or watching from anywhere around the world — to immerse themselves in all aspects of the game and engage directly with our teams and players.”
Through its current League Pass offering, the NBA has experimented with different camera angles; multiple game audio options, whether that was in the form of an influencer calling the game or listening to the game in a different language; and interactive trivia and questions during game telecasts.
In addition to delivering live and on-demand game broadcasts through the Microsoft Azure platform, the NBA’s vast offering of statistics, data and historical video archive will be curated and presented to fans through state-of-the-art machine learning, cognitive search and advanced data solutions. This will create a more personalized fan experience that tailors the content to the preferences of the fan, rewards participation, and provides more insights and analysis than ever before.
“First and foremost, we want to make it easy to be an NBA fan,” said Chris Benyarko, NBA Executive Vice President, Direct to Consumer. “By creating a new platform that brings together all the things that make up being an NBA fan — whether that’s watching games, buying a ticket, participating in fantasy or buying merchandise, we can use that platform to re-imagine and diversify what it means to be an NBA fan. One of our key focus areas will be to innovate and rethink how we present NBA games to fans and to really leverage technology to personalize and deepen those experiences and make them more engaging.”
Deb Cupp, Corporate Vice President of Enterprise and Commercial Industries at Microsoft, gave an example of a fan frequently searching for statistics while watching games on the platform and how the new platform’s artificial intelligence would use that behavior to enhance the fan experience.
“The AI eventually learns that I like to learn about stats, so it’s going to start presenting me more information about stats as I go into the game,” Cupp said. “It’s this experience where instead of just watching a game, it actually has the opportunity to interact in a way that matters to me as that fan; it’s enriching the experience and frankly just makes it more valuable to me.”
Fans will be able to set up an account and enter their preferences — whether it is favorite team, favorite players, interest in statistics, history, trivia, gaming and more — in order to provide some direction to the content the platform provides, while it also learns from your viewing habits.