- IBM and Masters have worked together for more than 25 years
- Generative AI promises many use cases for the sports industry
The Masters golf tournament will use generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology to create automated audio commentary for more than 20,000 video clips at this year’s event.
Long-term technology partner IBM has used multiple foundation models, including the text-to-speech function if its Watson cognitive computing platform, to train AI algorithms in the language of golf and the Masters – where tradition is almost as important as the sport itself.
These algorithms automate the addition of spoken commentary, complete with varied sentence structure and vocabulary, avoiding redundant sentences and repetition to make the clips informative and engaging.
IBM will also power use AI to power hole-by-hole player predictions based on the analysis of six years’ worth of Masters data, or 120,000 shots. These insights will change in real time depending on the most recent data, and will be used across the Masters’ digital platforms and fantasy games.
IBM has been the Masters’ digital partner for more than a quarter of a century and launched the tournament’s first official website back in 1996. Since then, the partnership has expanded to include underlying technological infrastructure and data-driven fan engagement efforts.
The relationship is comparable to the one between IBM and Wimbledon, a tournament which also places significant emphasis on tradition and location and is also widely regarded as the most prestigious event in its sport.
“For more than twenty years, IBM and the Masters have partnered together to create custom solutions that improve the user experience and capture the attention of millions of golf fans globally,” said Jonathan Adashek, senior vice president of marketing and communications for IBM.
“We’re applying the same hybrid cloud, AI technology and IBM Consulting services that we use with clients across industries to bring an elevated digital experience to one of the most iconic sporting events in the world.”
AI-created highlights have been offered on the Masters’ digital platforms for several years now, with data analytics and cloud-based audio and vision recognition technologies used to create automated video packages from every hole at Augusta National.
Although the Masters typically has a smaller field than other golfing tournaments, it still features close to 100 players across 18 holes. While cameras capture every shot on every hole, there is only so much airtime available, and only so many commentators and video editors to turn this footage into something compelling for the viewer.
Automation makes this process more rapid, simpler and scalable than manual methods alone, helping rights holders and broadcasters maximise their video assets, while giving viewers the opportunity to customise their experience.
The addition of automated voice commentary is a huge step forward for the application of this technology and a tangible benefit of how the much-hyped (perhaps justifiably so) generative AI will impact sport.