Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the 24/7 Fan Experience

Originally published on Future Sport on June 1, 2017

In a recent interview with ESPN sportscaster Bram Weinstein, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stated that “analytics in sports are overrated, and artificial intelligence (AI) and its derivatives underrated”.

In January 2017, I had my first face-to-face encounter with AI technology, and this was with the Pepper humanoid robot developed by Aldebran Softbank Robotics at the Bank Audi Lebanon in Beirut, and I wondered how long it will take for Robots to replace catering and hospitality event day staff at Sports Stadiums.

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Fans are these days actively engaging with AI technology, for example, Amazon’s Echo AI voice technology is used in Major League Baseball at the Seattle Mariners’ stadium Safeco Field. VIP Fans using hospitality suites can use their voice to order food, change TV channels, play music or talk to an AI-powered voice assistant.

AI technology is helping fans in other ways, for example, the Turner Sports’ Catch Sports app serves as a digital personal assistant for fans on Amazon’s Alexa to help them find where to watch a game or what to watch.

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Arsenal FC became the first Premier League club to launch an Amazon Alexa skill that allows UK and US fans to stream live matches, access real-time match stats, line-ups, score updates and post-match analysis.

AI technology is not only helping fans but also Sports Media and Social Media Publishers. For example, Breaking Data Corp uses AI technology to increase website growth, improve marketing activities and quickly identify consumer behaviours. With a different aim, Arkadium delivers interactive data visualisation that amplifies in-house editorial staff with AI technology, boosting fans interaction and session duration via InHabit.

During the summer of 2016, theScore created the first sports chatbot for Facebook Messenger using AI technology. TheScore envisions chatbots as the future of news consumption for sports fans. This AI technology encourages fans to engage with their favourite team 24/7. WePlay is currently bringing Facebook Messenger Bots to sports teams. You can try yourself this AI technology: “Speak to Walter, our newest recruit. He’s waiting for you over in @messenger” http://M.me/weplayco

AI is going to have a big impact in sports. We already know it will engage with Fans 24/7 and it will help Sport Media companies understand web and social media users to create more engaging marketing propositions.

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