Every Tuesday Vancouver Basketball takes a look at our favourite basketball related products.
This week we feature a new startup company that’s revolutionizing how fans get highlights from their favourite NBA players and teams.
Who’s your favourite NBA player? Whether it’s LeBron James, Steph Curry, Omri Casspi or anyone else, you can now get customized highlight clips of your chosen basketball star thanks to a groundbreaking sports-video technology from Israel.
A multi year partnership between the National Basketball Association and WSC Sports Technologies of Ramat Gan allows the NBA to use WSC’s AVGEN (Automatic Video Generator) and Clipro technology to generate and deliver customized in-game and post-game highlights automatically in near real-time.
This gives fans unprecedented access to the best daily, weekly and monthly moments from every team and player. The clips are featured across the NBA’s 18 international Web publishers, many NBA team sites, NBA.com/Stats, NBADLeague.com and WNBA.com.
“NBA fans around the world crave game highlights, and our unique collaboration with WSC lets us provide unlimited, high-quality video content,” said Melissa Brenner, NBA’s senior vice president for digital media. “As NBA fans’ demand for video on digital and social platforms continues to grow, WSC’s technology will give us the tools to help keep up with that demand.”
Since the partnership was launched at the start of the 2015-16 NBA season on October 27, an average of 500 NBA highlight packages have been generated via the system every day. The total number was 35,000 as of the end of December, according to Aviv Arnon, WSC’s vice president for business development.
During the 2014-15 NBA season, fans around the world viewed a record 4.2 billion videos across NBA.com and NBA Mobile – proving the need for a way to automate the tedious video-editing process of creating highlight clips.
WSC does this with a unique set of technologies based on cloud-computing, sports data integration, image processing, audio analysis and automatic editing algorithms.
“The technology can support any sport,” Arnon tells ISRAEL21c. “We’ve implemented it for basketball, American football, football [soccer] and cricket, and we are in talks with professional soccer, football, rugby, baseball and hockey leagues as well.”
In addition, WSC will begin working with e-sports leagues and high-school sports to provide highlight clips never available before.
Like many other successful Israeli startups, WSC was hatched by military tech veterans Arnon, CEO Daniel Shichman and CTO Shmulik Yoffe, all 34-year-old electrical engineers, along with COO Hy Gal, 37, a basketball-playing computer scientist and assistant coach for the Israeli Academic National Basketball Team.
“We were still in the army when we conceptualized it,” says Arnon. “Being sports fans, we came up with the idea of building video-analysis software for coaches for scouting purposes. We started giving it for free to the Israeli national team. Then it was picked up by Maccabi Tel Aviv and then by the entire Israeli league. Every professionally coached team in Israel is still using our legacy product that started as more of a hobby.”
“We’ve implemented it for basketball, American football, football [soccer] and cricket, and are in talks with professional soccer, football, rugby, baseball and hockey leagues as well.”
The foursome really got down to business four years ago, when they realized their core technology could revolutionize the sports media market by producing automated individualized content for fans.
“When we came to the NBA with our proposal at the end of 2014 they were very skeptical because they’d heard this story before,” says Arnon. “They asked us to prove we could do it. That’s how we ended up having a trial with the NBA development league, and then we did a trial with the WNBA and partially for the NBA.”
Impressed with the results, the NBA digital media team took the ball and ran. “And it started evolving into this great product we have now,” says Arnon.
He explains that the system analyzes and identifies every second of play and makes a searchable video from which the NBA can create an assortment of clips – say, a highlight of a LeBron dunk shot, or a dunks clip, or highlights of the entire game or season — tailored to fan requests and ready for viewing and sharing within minutes.
“Fans in different markets can get exactly the content they want, and that increases engagement,” says Arnon.
That’s not the only advantage for the NBA. Before AVGEN, the NBA editing crew had to create video highlight content manually overnight. With the automated system handling that task more quickly and at much greater volume, editors can concentrate on creating higher-level production and storytelling products they didn’t have time to do before.
Arnon says the launch into e-sports will, for the first time, allow fans to view the “best of” from many hours of virtual play. “Turner Broadcasting has a new league starting soon and we’re talking with them about creating highlights for that.”
And WSC’s new partnership with Krossover Intelligence, a US company that aggregates 50,000 high school games per year, will enable parents to buy video clips of their child’s highlights from a game or season to share on social media or with college recruiters.
The company is doing its own recruiting lately, looking to add developers to its current staff of 14.