FOX Sports & IBM Team Up for 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup

The eighth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup saw teams from 12 countries battling it out for the championship title with millions of soccer fans tuning into the excitement in France. During the tournament, IBM teamed up with U.S.-based FOX Sports to help transform production of the event by infusing AI analysis and streaming into its coverage of “The Beautiful Game”.

This year, FOX Sports enhanced the viewer experience with a new broadcast segment called Player Spotlight Built with IBM Watson, an AI-backed tool to help generate stat analysis for match commentary using a natural language interface. IBM’s Watson offers the power to reason, understand, categorise and analyse game footage, further enabling FOX Sports to enhance viewer engagement.

With Watson, FOX Sports’ commentators like Alexi Lalas were able ti pull trends and statistics comparing individual and team performance. To produce these tournament trends and game statistics, Player Spotlight ingests detailed tournament data from Opta, a leading data provider that collects and analyses every pass, goal and penalty kick, all in near real-time. FOX Sports commentators then interacted directly with the tool by entering queries into the navigation function, which, in turn, surfaced highlights, data and analytics that the broadcasters could reference on-air.

“IBM’s AI and live-streaming technology has helped transform our production of key events like the Women’s World Cup,” said Zac Fields, FOX Sports SVP Graphic Tech/Integration.

Building upon the successful remote production of last year’s men’s tournament, FOX Sports used IBM Aspera’s FASP-streaming technology for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France. By offering editors in Los Angeles access to HD camera feeds from France within 10 seconds of live play, FOX Sports was able to avoid deploying equipment overseas. In 2019, Fox used new real-time auto-archiving functionality that helped allow raw, high resolution footage to be stored offsite within seconds of match completion. In total, it’s estimated that roughly four to six petabytes of content were streamed over the course of the tournament, more than double that of the 2018 Men’s World Cup.

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