PFT’s Muralidhar Sridhar On AI And ML

The increasing availability of AI tools and AI expertise is opening up concrete possibilities across industries — to enhance operational efficiencies, tap new revenue streams, or simply gain insights for better, data-driven decision making. For the M&E industry, 2019 is slated to be the year when the use of AI will transition from the pilot phase to early adoption. With recent breakthroughs in areas like AI- enabled Media Asset Management (MAM) and AI-assisted localization, the stage is now set for broadcasters, studios, production houses, and OTT players, to leverage AI for reaping actual business benefits.

AI is poised to play a major role in myriad content operations, right from creation and production to post-production, marketing, and distribution. A few key use cases where we foresee AI making waves and providing excellent ROI are as below:

Sports – Live Production And Consumer Experiences

On the linear TV front, AI will help producers gain new insights from sports footage and use these for better storytelling. Specifics of player movement, the number of a player’s hits and misses, and many other fascinating details can be measured by AI on a timeline. The insights generated can be used for delivering compelling live commentary and post-match analysis sessions, to engage viewers well beyond the duration of the actual match. In addition, AI-enabled automation for creating sports highlights in near real time, will help producers and broadcasters achieve greater scale and speed. AI has a lot to offer to OTT sports players as well. Typically, during a match, a set of VOD packages are published for consumers who have entered mid-way, so that they can catch up on the action that has taken place. These can be auto-generated by an AI engine, which marks important highlights on-the-fly. Additionally, AI can drive personalization, by empowering OTT consumers to search for what they want to see. For example, in cricket, a fan can choose to see how his/her favourite player got out, or watch a highlights package of this favourite player, at any stage during the match. This level of interactivity will drive significantly higher consumer engagement, and result in additional ROI through sponsorships and increased viewership.

Production Dailies
Studios/production houses are likely to leverage AI to analyse dailies and cuts, and for automatically extracting metadata from claps. The metadata collected, can be associated with brands, actions and events within the content, providing an insightful summary to marketers and other decision makers.

Content Localisation

Subtitling and translation are key areas that will witness large scale adoption of AI, in 2019. While leveraging AI for speech-to- text transcription is already popular, recent improvements in accuracy and time-coding capabilities of AI engines will help make the entire process of subtitling more efficient. Such tools are also catering to a growing number of regional languages, and their usage for subtitle translation will steadily increase.

Compliance Editing

With digital platforms enabling content suppliers to go global, compliance editing is taking up more time and effort than ever before. Producers need to meet compliance requirements for multiple territories, which typically involves multiple rounds of viewing and editing. AI can help swiftly identify objectionable visual content like nudity, violence, smoking, drug abuse, as well as swear words, and profanities. Leveraging AI to automatically identify content segments with compliance issues can reduce manual effort and operational costs significantly, while providing scalability to handle peaks in volume.

Snackable Content

Today, many major broadcasters and studios have forayed into the OTT space. As there’s a constant need to showcase large volumes of content on these platforms, they often dig into their archives and re-purpose existing content. AI-enabled cataloging and search can make this entire process faster, helping content owners locate relevant assets at lightning speed. 2019 will see AI being used to identify interesting pieces
of content and re-package these creatively for OTT consumption. For example, AI can pick action scenes of two particular actors across different films, and create an exciting montage out of these. The ability to prepare this sort of ‘snackable’ content in a cost efficient manner will help content owners effectively monetise their vast libraries.

AI-Assisted Promo Creation

With personalization gaining traction across markets, OTT players are looking to create promos targeted at specific consumers based on their past preferences. For instance, a consumer who pre-dominantly watches the romance genre can be shown a film promo that highlights its romantic aspects, more than action or drama. For the same film, a second action-based promo can be created for viewers interested in the action genre. AI can help promo editors automatically identify sections of interest under each theme, helping them efficiently create larger variations of promos for the same content.

Distribution And Promotion

In today’s ‘TV everywhere’ universe, being able to quickly distribute linear TV content to VOD platforms is a pressing need. AI can make this process easier, through the automatic identification and removal of
physical segments like blacks, montages, ads, and recaps. Such tools will gain popularity, as they enable broadcasters to publish to VOD much quicker. Another excellent use case for AI is thumbnail creation. Thumbnails play a major role in attracting viewers to watch a piece of content. AI can help create
contextual thumbnails based on consumer preferences. A viewer who likes action can be shown action oriented thumbnails, while a consumer who watches dramas can be shown a drama-oriented thumbnail for the same content. AI can map a video’s synopsis text to a viewer‘s preferences and display best-fit, contextual thumbnails to attract audience. This helps increase content consumption, and consequently, monetisation. AI tools also provide automatic thumbnail suggestions, reducing the amount of time an editor would spend looking for thumbnails.

Consumer Enabled Searches

In the digital ecosystem, consumers call the shots. 2019 will witness VOD players leveraging AI to further empower consumers and deliver enhanced viewing experiences. AI will make it possible to associate video content across VOD platforms with in-depth data, including trivia, social media feeds, IMDb information, and more. Viewers will be able to click on a scene and go through the associated data that interests them. Picture a 10X version of Prime Video’s X-Ray feature! What’s more, AI will enable consumers to search within content for specific clips of interest, such as ‘all fight scenes of Tom Cruise’, or ‘all sixes hit by Virat Kohli’.Thanks to AI, many OTT players will be able to deliver such improved user experiences.

Come 2019, and AI is dominating innovation for enterprises across the globe, from giant conglomerates or young start- ups. For M&E players, AI is likely to help deliver new viewing experiences, enhance operational efficiencies, create a greater variety of promotional material, and meet business goals. So if you’re in the business of content, move fast, because AI certainly is!―Digital Studio India

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