Using Artificial Intelligence in the football industry to tackle the sports fan’s fragmented attention span

· by World Football Summit

Magnifi Co-founder & CEO, Vinayak Shrivastav, returns to talk to us about how Artificial Intelligence can influence the football industry at a time when fans are changing the way they consume sports content due to the vast amount of content and stimuli they are receiving from social media and other platforms. This was something that our partners for WFS Europe, LaLiga, and Nielsen published in this report. The main conclusion of the study is that people are consuming more sports-related content, although they are doing so across more platforms.

The challenge arises when having to gather all of the resources to create content at scale that will help tackle the problem of “fragmented attention.” After all, and as we discussed during the conversation, the average attention span has decreased to 8 seconds…

To that extent, a solution that has become extremely effective in recent years is short-form video content, and AI has emerged as the perfect tool to battle against this loss of engagement that many sports brands are experiencing. As Vinayak explains, Artificial Intelligence technology helps create personalised content at scale and Magnifi specialises in doing just that.

Other topics that are covered during the interview include why we should be excited about the rollout of AI, the realms of the sports industry that will benefit from it our the lessons that Magnifi has learned from working with other sports properties that can be applied to football.

You can listen to the full conversation through the link below and feel free to learn more about Magnifi on their website.

You can also read Vinayak’s last insight into the adoption of AI by the football industry here

Finally, these three questions will give you a preview of the entire conversation:

WFS: What are the realms where AI will impact most in the world of sports?

Vinayak Shrivastav: The biggest point here is to look at how AI can benefit overall, but to highlight one though, look at the amount of lesser injuries we’re seeing these days in sporting events because there’s a huge amount of AI that plays a part in safety and injury control. For example, a club like Liverpool has seen a drop in player injuries by one-third after adopting AI tracking and data analysis. So the realms of AI have been very positive, and it’s going to continue to impact even more positively for all of us.

WFS: From a “content” perspective, it’s important to distribute it across new/emerging platforms to reach new audiences and adapt to fan behaviors. It seems there is a general agreement on that and, if that is the case, why is it that football clubs are not able to create content for each of them? What is holding them back?

Vinayak: Let’s take a quick example: everyone knows why they have to do this and they haven’t been able to due to constraints at their end. We found a statistic that around 57.5 million viewers in the US watch live digital sports content at least once a month. Moreover, there’s going to be a figure that is going to increase to 90 million by 2025.

So I’m talking about 86% of this business being video, and is going to be video as a marketing tool for conversion. I recently read a report in the New York Times, which said that over the last few years, internet consumption has gone over 70% and streaming alone is contributing to 12% of the traffic. The global video market is expected to be at 224 billion by 2028. These are massive numbers.

The teams that you’re talking about are going to start adapting to the new changes or start holding ground to these things, they want to start adapting to new technology. But adapting to new technology takes time, and there is a resistance to change, right?

Given current demands, the challenge is to create content that can be resized while tracking key players, and keeping the ball within the frame is another challenge people are trying to solve. This needs to be produced at scale with speed and accuracy. And the challenge when doing this manually is huge. And that’s why applying tech helps overcome these challenges.

Teams are starting to now understand and adapt to these changes as well, very aggressively. You’re going to see a lot of the adoption happen over the next couple of years, but it’s going to happen in a staggered manner, you won’t see an overnight overhaul happening in the entire industry.

WFS: You’ve helped an OTT platform focused on cricket solve a problem related to the content they were creating.  What was the problem that they were facing? And secondly, what can football industry leaders learn from this use case?

Vinayak: The challenge on hand was adjusting to the changing consumption patterns, right? Engaging fans on the go and subsequently driving traffic to the main client website.

There has been a steady year-on-year decline in viewership on linear TV. And one of the main reasons was fans prefer watching content on the go and in a mobile-friendly form, right? That’s exactly where we clearly fit in.

In regard to what can be learned by football leaders:

  • Try to explore new content platforms. And the genres are very crucial.
  • Create web stories moments, key moments, short-form content, highlights… in an automated manner for the platforms, as we produce, and real-time solutions that can be applied in football. Or say, for example, embrace ball tracking technology, which will help overcome challenges such as accounting for changing camera angles, movement, and for varying speed, and unpredictability or trajectory of players and the ball. Oftentimes, the ball may be hidden behind a player, or they may have a similar irrelevant object lying outside the field. But within the scope of the camera lens, these challenges can be solved with AI models trained exclusively for football.
  • Fan engagement, delivering on multiple platforms at speed and scale, is what every sport needs.
  • And the last thing I think is just understanding the right format of the content, not pushing the content in a forced manner, but letting it be more seamless into what they really wanted to watch.

This interview is featured in the latest edition of WFS Digest, our insider’s guide to the latest and most relevant thoughts and practices from within the football industry. You can subscribe to WFS Digest HERE.