Artificial intelligence startup WSC Sports found a niche for its technology in the form of enabling sports leagues and teams to share video highlights to social platforms minutes after they take place.
But what happens when the games are put on hold?
“You don’t plan for a case where the sports world will just stop,” co-founder and CEO Daniel Shichman said. But that is exactly what began to happen when news broke March 11 that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the coronavirus, setting off a chain reaction that put professional and college sports in the U.S. on indefinite hold over the next two days.
The effects were more scattered overseas, where the company also has several clients, but sporting events remain suspended in most of the world. The Chinese Professional Baseball League restarted in Taiwan last Saturday—with no fans allowed to attend.
WSC’s AI platform analyzes audio, video and data during live sports events to identify each action that takes place and create edited video clips, matching those clips with the relevant metadata and rating the event in the clip by importance.
Its clients, which include Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, can access any of those videos automatically in near-real time or on-demand. They also have the ability to add contextual graphic packaging—intro, outro, mid-clip and graphic overlays—and to automate distribution of those videos across all of their digital and social platforms.
When sports leagues began to suspend their operations, WSC set out to create a package of options for its clients, with the aim of enabling them to create content quickly and easily. The company, headquartered in Givatayim, Israel, with offices in New York and Australia, has a staff of 150.
The WSC Sports platform is cloud-based, enabling remote access to organizations’ entire media libraries, as well as advanced and automated editing tools.
Shichman said WSC Sports has over 100 customers worldwide, and more than 90 of them are currently using its platform for initiatives including archived content, interactive content and other solutions for their sponsors.
One interactive experience that can be created via the company’s platform is side-by-side polls, as demonstrated by Big Ten Network, which enabled fans to vote on whether the University of Illinois, the University of Maryland, Michigan State University or the University of Wisconsin would have been most likely to reach the Final Four in Atlanta, had the 2020 NCAA Tournament proceeded as planned.
France’s LNB Pro A basketball league also created split-screen polls using the company’s technology, setting up a bracket-style dunking contest.
WSC Sports teamed up with Cricket Australia, posting highlight videos from a classic game from the 1990s on Twitter and linking to a “livestream” of the full game on YouTube.
Also from Down Under, the Australian Football League suspended its Toyota Premiership Season after the opening round, turning instead to what it calls the Toyota Fixture Throwback, livestreaming archived games between the clubs who were supposed to take each other on this season.
AFL Media Network head Sarah Wyse told Adweek that having access to WSC’s AI platform has allowed her team to keep working remotely, effectively automating and creating highlight videos used to engage its fans “before, during and after our Toyota Fixture Throwback matches, and has been a terrific support for us in the current environment.”
She added that the tech has also helped streamline the creation of promotional content to support the activation’s naming rights partner, Toyota, and “has provided great opportunities for our other major partners such as McDonald’s and National Australia Bank, and also the clubs.”
The United Soccer League presented highlights of its 2020 USL eCup: Rocket League Edition esports tournament via the WSC Sports platform.
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