When it comes to embracing the mobile-friendly world in which we live, the NBA is at the front of the four major professional sports. Highlights abound on Vine, YouTube, and other social media and video platforms, and for the most part, the league has said it’s OK with that arrangement. There’s value in the free advertisement and in growing the fan base.
But the NBA isn’t content with its current highlight process — which, while impressive, certainly doesn’t cover everything. Instead, the league is partnering with a company called WSC Sports to "automatically create highlights" in near-real time, according to The Verge:
And we’re not just talking about a few dozen more highlights here and there. According to the report, after an initial test with the NBA D-League, the league has created "more than 20,000 clips, at a rate of between 350-450 clips per game."
On a basic level, AVGEN is software that automates the video editing process that creates highlight reels. According to Aviv Arnon, WSC’s VP of business development, “We analyze the video itself to figure out where the players are on the court, where movement is, [and] do audio analysis to figure out the perfect ins and outs for every moment.” That means analyzing fans screaming in the stands and color commentary, as well as player stats to determine what plays meant for the game as a whole. Most importantly, the software uses image recognition to also identify players and the types of plays being made. So if an outlet wanted to create a highlight reel of DeAndre Jordan’s slam dunks, they’d simply need to specify those terms in AVGEN before getting a clip minutes later. That clip can then be shared to the waiting eyes on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter on the fly, ready for easy consumption.
For now, it seems that the AVGEN technology will be used by teams, media outlets and the league to generate more video, more quickly, with the day-to-day fan experience not changing much. You’ll still go to your favorite places to watch highlights from your favorite teams.
But the amount of video you’ll be able to see should grow at a remarkable rate, and the video should generally be of a high quality. The technology will ideally allow the NBA and its partners to better promote the product domestically and around the world. By identifying specific players, highlights can be generated for players who traditionally generate less attention and, as a result, often go missing in conventional highlight packages.
But might fans some day be able to generate their own highlight clips and bypass the middle-man?
Soon, then, it’s easy to imagine a world where a highlight of Metta World Peace attempting to dribble is as readily available as one of a Stephen Curry 3 from almost halfcourt. The only problem will be deciding how to spend your free time with so much video at your fingertips.
When asked, both the NBA and WSC seemed open to fans one day taking AVGEN for a spin.
“We know the opportunities are here to create a lot of fan-facing experiences and applications using video,” said Arnon, “which is where digital media is going. But there’s the question of creating the best product out of it.”