PGA Tour taps AI to provide content more efficiently

Golf circuit introduces smart video clipping tool and automated story creator.

PGA Tour taps AI to provide content more efficiently

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Golf’s PGA Tour has announced that it is rolling out a slate of artificial intelligence (AI) platforms to enhance its broadcasts and digital storytelling.

The US men’s golf circuit is using a Microsoft-developed Content Relevancy Engine (CRE), which sifts through nearly 20 years of statistical data collected by the tour’s proprietary scoring system, ShotLink, as well as more than 80,000 hours of video in the organisation’s digital library to provide real-time statistical trends and storylines relevant to the current action.

The primary function of the CRE is to provide contextual information for television broadcasts and digital properties in order to enhance a fan's understanding of competitive situations as they arise.

Previously, PGA Tour staff and broadcast teams would have been forced to spend significant amounts of time preparing statistical packages and graphics prior to a round, many of which would often go unused if the anticipated scenario did not occur.

“In the broadcast truck, decisions on what content airs on television are made in real-time as the story is unfolding in front of everyone,” said Steve Evans, senior vice president of information systems at the PGA Tour. “Having compelling and relevant content at our finger tips allows us to instantly provide the broadcast team with supporting information surrounding the action as it happens.

“Through artificial intelligence, we can build systems that continue to learn and develop on their own, allowing the Tour’s platforms to evolve with the fan.”

In addition to the Microsoft-fuelled CRE, the PGA Tour is working with WSC Sports on an AI-driven smart video generation platform, which analyses broadcast video along with data from ShotLink to generate content for the organisation’s digital channels.

The platform creates a variety of highlights within minutes including a five-minute video package of a player’s round, a task that previously took hours to produce and post digitally. Going forward, the system will be utilised to provide a wide variety of video content including specific highlight packages of players from selected countries for distribution partners around the world.

Commenting on the platform, Scott Gutterman, the PGA Tour’s vice president of digital operations, said: “Streamlining video generation workflows using WSC's advanced technology will help keep our fans engaged, enhance audiences' digital experience on any digital platform and expand the Tour’s global reach.”

The third AI innovation being introduced by the PGA Tour is Narrative Science’s NLG automated stories platform, Quill, which automatically writes round recaps customised for every player in the field at the conclusion of each 18 holes of a tournament. The service transforms the player’s most recent and relevant performance stats into insightful recaps, which can be found by fans on PGATour.com or using an internet search engine.  

“The automated story platform is in response to our fans and their desire to read about players who may not be at the top of the leaderboard,” added Gutterman. “With the help of Narrative Science’s platform, we now produce an AP Style formatted story for each player in the field following every round.

“The stories also help the Tour build upon our search engine optimisation across the internet. We will continue to improve this tool by posting related video and photo assets from the Tour’s vast digital library.”