The Much Awaited Red Letter Day!

A year back I had written about the journey the women cricketers have embarked upon since 1745. Must say it took almost over two centuries and a half to be recognised as players who deserved equal pay. As a woman working with technology that predominantly involves sports, 27th October 2022 has been a hallelujah for Indian women cricketers who have finally proved their mettle with the new equity pay policy by BCCI. Captain Harmanpreet Kaur Bhullar, skipper of the Indian Women’s cricket team thanked Jay Shah, the honorary secretary of BCCI by tweeting, “Truly a red letter day for Women’s Cricket in India with pay parity announced for women and men.” Many male counterparts joined in congratulating the BCCI for paving way for gender equality.  

Match fees

FORMATWOMENMEN
ExistingRevised
TestRs. 2.5 lakhRs. 15 lakhRs. 15 lakh
One-day InternationalRs. 1 lakhRs. 6 lakhRs. 6 lakh
T20 InternationalRs. 1 lakhRs. 3 lakhRs. 3 lakh

 

Would it also impact the annual retainer for the women in the near future, the number of matches, viewership, and sponsor games with this move? I reckon it could. Between the year 2023-2027, the men in blue are due to 141 matches as the FTP, as opposed to the women, who play 75 matches between 2022- 2025. [LINK 1]  [LINK 2]

Back in the day, the women in blue would fund their own expenses and share kits despite making national appearances for their country. Equal pay has refined the status of women in cricket but the earnings are not singularly dependent on the pay hike; it is a mix of the contract fees, match fees, prize money and a predetermined percentage of the BCCI’s gross annual revenue. The central contract fees are driven based on the categories of players 

Contract for 2021-2022

CATEGORYMENWOMEN
A+Rs 7 Crore
ARs 5 CroreRs 50 lakh
BRs 3 CroreRs 30 lakh
CRs 1 CroreRs 10 lakh

 

As a woman who lends innovative technology to sports, I was in my own way proud to be a part of this change as one cannot deny that today viewership, visibility and the media traction a sport garners, influences the commercials through ticketing, broadcast rights, sponsorship deals and more for the industry as a whole. A quick search will show that the March ICC Women’s T20 final had 1.78 billion viewing minutes (India), which was 59 times more than the 2018 event. I am hopeful that this monumental move will trigger a revolution for other sports throughout the world. 

The advertisement by Boost came to mind where MS Dhoni is impressed by a young girl’s energy, and grit and asks her to meet him at the cricket ground for more opportunities. Breaking stereotypes is key to gaining traction in a sport. Adidas has recently started a campaign around gender equality involving women athletes and yoga practitioners to empower and support women. A Twitter spokesperson said, “Want to make an impact? Feature women in your advertising. Our survey found that women in sports ads are perceived as 148% more empowering than the sports ads with men as the main protagonist”.

Every time a woman in sports is discovered, she inspires another woman with the talent to take her dream forward. So far, lack of exposure, low funding and sporting protocols have stifled many. But today there is hope. This may just be a small drop in the ocean and we are still far removed from the equality women in sports deserve, the anticipation that this might be the harbinger of the much-needed change is palpable. The need of the hour is to invest and encourage women in sports for traction and visibility to help them reach their rightful position. [LINK]

Cricket Predictions and Luck

Lately, all the cricket action has kept me glued to some good reads and analysis by veterans and analysts of the sport. It almost feels as if we are privy to the outcomes of a future that is yet to unfold. Shane Watson in his prediction for the ongoing Asia Cup, picked India as the most probable winner after the teams thrived under coach Rahul Dravid and skipper Rohit Sharma. In an interview, he said, “My predicted winner is India. They’re so strong and depending on what the conditions are, they adapt easily”. But as they say, predictions don’t always work!

I always marvel at how technology has abstractly applied the Experience and Reflective Learning theory by John Dewey, where he believed that through experience man learns about the world and only by the use of his experience man can maintain and improve himself in the world. Artificial Learning and Data Science have increased prediction accuracy in the game of cricket. However, each player’s performance impacts the performance of the team sometimes in unpredictable ways. For example, Michael Hussey single-handedly led the Aussies to victory against Pakistan in the semis of ICC World Twenty 20 in 2010. In yesteryears, a player’s performance depended on a few factors like his form, performance against the opponents, and the advantage of the pitch. The team management, coach and captain analysed the statistics and would select the best XI for a match.

With the advent of AI and ML-based algorithms merged into cricket, I feel it began doing cooler things, almost like fortune telling, but backed with data and analysis. The entire game process and smart strategies, even more precisely with deep insights, the vantage point of a team in a particular venue against a certain opponent increasing the chance of winning the game. Interestingly, Microsoft has lent its technology for detailed information during a match with the help of AI and the internet of things (IoT). Weighted Association Rule Mining (WARM) algorithm was used by the Indian Cricket team for analysing its performance against Sri Lanka and South Africa. [LINK]

Interestingly, in the year 1996, bowler Anil Kumble created a software package for data analysis and became the first to introduce a digital system in strategic planning. Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in collaboration with ESPN Cricinfo leveraged an AI deeper insight algorithm on players’ performance and matches that were unavailable earlier. The stats gave a clear perspective of a player’s performance based on factors like pitch quality, opponents’ current performance and the pressure on the team in the current scenario. Another compelling factor that gives a clearer picture was taking into account spontaneous factors such as the impact of toss, umpiring errors, no-balls, wides, and dropped catches that are often ignored during the assessment of a player’s performance. Sachin Tendulkar’s performance in the semis of 2011 would be inclusive of the fact that not only did he score 85 runs but was dropped by Pakistani fielders four times.

I pondered on how accurate the game predictions could be and smiled at the thought that in yesteryears it would clearly depend on the fact where my mum sat during the match, hilariously every time she went to the kitchen, India would lose a wicket till the time she was forbidden to step out of the living room. However, machine learning largely depends on humans for the data that is fed in. The overall data depends qualitatively and would predict the exact fate of the match, especially how a batsman faces a particular bowler or a fielder’s natural reflex kicks in during the match that curbs the batman. The algorithm helps in predicting a few standard factors such as the luck index, run potential, and forecaster metrics (interestingly matches the data to the sequence of events with the real-time events to predict a score.) The Smart Stat Metrics include the pressure indices, sudden wickets, and player quality index. Almost like a report card, it predicts the best batsman or bowler during the course of the game, especially during the power play or death overs.

The impact of AI and ML has been huge on cricket as well, data science plays out various scenarios to evaluate the events in general, giving it a common baseline. However, luck that influences superstition is a factor that still remains beyond the control or analysis of a human or an algorithm, such was the case of the Zimbabwean duo Grant Flower and Mark Dekker, who would go to bat together and one would say, “I hope you get a hit on the head” with the other replying “same to you”. Every time Sachin Tendulkar went to bat he always put his left pad first, and Shane Waugh always kept a red rag in his pocket while batting after he had scored a century with the rag in his pocket in 1993. We are at a realm of transition where men build machines for relevance, acquisition, and accuracy. Despite the fact that trepidation is what keeps the match exciting, however, technology is gradually seeping into cricket just as in any other sport that will toss cricket for a head every time it is played.

When AI Sparks Imagination in Video Content

A decade ago the video tech industry worked at a fixed bit rate for every video regardless of the type or theme of the content. Every video content went through manual editing that sometimes resulted in lengthy and tedious editing processes, poor resolution and consuming large volumes of bandwidth. In 2016, an algorithm was created that learned data values and concepts merely by analysing apt data samples fed by humans. While much has been achieved in over two decades from the marriage between technology and the video production industry, the birth of AI and ML has hastened the process further for video content creators. 

In time the AI automated integration made editing cheaper and enabled industries across sectors to embrace technology as an integral part of their brand and marketing strategies. One of the cornerstones was that it not only shook up the foundations of the broadcasting and video streaming efficacies but also demonstrated its capabilities in terms of predictions, trends and the possibility of lucrative RoI.

Going for minimum human intervention

Being almost autonomous with minimum human intervention, AI has been able to identify specific content and the market response to it and generate trending videos based on viewers’ interests. More and more brands understood the power of videos in their strategies simply because they found success in reaching a larger audience at a fraction of the cost, and the videos were far more engaging, dynamic and insightful. Storytelling in marketing is always a great connection to have with your customers and motivates them to experience your brand.

Anastasia Radzinskaya, an eight-year-old content creator going by the name “Like Nastya”, creates original child-oriented stories and role plays that are dubbed in several languages. With 79.12 billion views and 96.5 million Youtube subscribers, Forbes named Anastasia as “one of the world’s fastest-growing creators, thanks to videos in seven languages” in 2019, and she is the third highest-paid YouTuber in the world, with an estimated annual income of $18 million. Like Natsy launched her first-ever toy line designed by toy manufacturer Jazwares, in a partnership brokered by IMG, and an NFT collection with Gary Vaynerchuk’s VaynerNFT and with thriving followers on different platforms catapulted serious sales around the world. [source]

In time there has been a giant expansion of content creators who have delved into the ‘Meta’ space creating a need for inexhaustible content. Platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Meta employ AI-based algorithms that facilitate amateur users in creating dextrous content with top-notch editing advantages.

Recently Deep Nostalgia created lifelike movements using facial recognition, by training the algorithm with datasets of real people with different facial movements, in the end, users were amazed to see their forefathers or famous historical figures in motion. The AI algorithm recognised the pre-set video best fits to the still images. It garnered plenty of users because seeing ancestors in a video stimulation was not just exciting but also found a profound way to connect with the family tree. 

With the expansion of the digital horizon and immersive technology, there has been a cerebral move in the marketplace. Equipped with AI-integrated data most brands have embraced video technology to bridge the gap between retailers, supply chain partners and customer experience. The market is evolving at a revolutionary speed creating demand-based supply, and technology is the only constant that brings about sustenance and balance. Like Daniel Bell says, “Technology like art is a soaring exercise of the human imagination.”

5 Bold Predictions for the Future of Video Technology in Sports

Past the summer solstice and well into the year 2022, we have seen some remarkable technological innovations and major AI breakthroughs being made that have an impact on our everyday lives. The field of sports is no different. With the rapid evolution of video technology in sports, we expect a huge acceleration in digital fan engagement in the coming year with the help of smart innovations; our big 5  to watch out for would be: 

1. The future of fan engagement lies in the metaverse

Experiencing the world of sports from the comfort of the living room is the very definition of ‘Metaverse’. With an immersive 360° viewing experience, brands, broadcasters, and streaming platforms will not only use metaverse to redefine the viewing experience but also leverage the platform to create unprecedented marketing campaigns using real-time moments in a virtual environment. For instance, Nike in collaboration with Roblox created a virtual world, called Nikeland, where fans in Nike apparel are provided with tools to create games, socialize and have an exhilarating brand experience. 

2. Instant gratification will drive consumer loyalty

To attract and engage the new generation of viewers, sports teams and broadcasters will feel the need to share all live content, including the game and pre-and-post-match events, on multiple channels in real-time. The ability to lure and reward the users through instant gratification on social media channels will go a long way in complementing the existing outreach of the broadcasting platform. In addition, the ability to customize video content to consumer preferences using analytics in real-time will act as the magic sauce for increased subscription and retention rates for these digital platforms.

3. College Sports will operate on a whole new playing field

Tides have been shifting as more and more college teams have been kicking off in a bigger way after a transformative season. Technology will continue to revamp playing fields from little leagues to majors as teams embrace upgraded digital infrastructure. The focus will be on AI-powered performance analytics and innovative content distributive avenues for an enriched fan experience.

4. Sports Betting at crossroads, exciting times ahead

Sports betting is in a transitional phase as it emerges from the periphery to the mainstream. The global marketplace has created a niche for online sports betting with continuous innovation and technological advancements, such as AR and VR, and the industry is expected to soar to $218 billion by the year 2023.

5. E-sports is expected to surpass the revenues of traditional sporting leagues

We are in the sports renaissance and there has been a steep rise in e-sports engaging the new generation that believes in ‘equality, togetherness, and technology’. According to the Global E-sport market report, global e-sports is likely to generate nearly $2 billion in revenue in the current year. With e-gamers poised to reach 3 billion in the year 2022, there has been an accelerated sponsorship in the world of E-sports as well, with big sponsors like Amazon, NASCAR, and Discord moving into this space. In the future, global brands would catalyse growth by securing media distribution deals.

The creator economy is on the rise and we at Magnifi believe that technology has to be the conduit that links the gap between what is possible today and what the audience wants next. We would love to hear your thoughts on the next big 5 predictions you foresee in the year 2023.

Avoid the Zombie Apocalypse with content moderation

A date with my seven-year-old nephew is a mandate every vacation he visits me. This visit too, he had been looking forward to our ‘us time’ and somehow the work and the weather had kept me procrastinating. I think he must have run out of patience when he sat on my lap and demanded to know what I was working on? I replied, “content moderation” not expecting him to understand let alone reply. With a serious tone, he replied, “Yes that is a must.” Now it was my turn to look up and I decided to interview this Gen Alpha, asking him what content moderation is? Without taking a breath, he replied, “content moderation is blocking bad stuff from being seen on videos.” It left me amazed at how simple and crisp his reply was. 

While the internet is an infinite virtual galaxy that has unfathomable possibilities there is both the good and the bad. Just to give you an example, a few months ago a friend who sells her ceramic pottery via an e-commerce platform got blocked due to some objectionable photos and lewd comments that were posted on her site. Like many others, she was unaware of the concept of content moderation. As I explained to her as well, simply put; content moderation is the process of monitoring user-generated content (UGC) with some preset guidelines that scan and remove offensive content thereby ensuring compliance to the platform norms. 

In the last few years, there has been a whopping rise of user-generated content with the availability of easy internet access and smartphones. Naturally, there has also been a rise in content that is insensitive, violent, has abusive language or hate crimes, thus needing diligent moderation. According to the Data Bridge Market Research report, the global content moderation solutions market is set to grow at a CAGR of 10.7% by 2027. Meanwhile, as found by AdWeek, 85% of users are more influenced by UGC as opposed to Professionally generated content (PGC). 

While this emphaises the urgent need for content moderation, it also raises a debate on what exactly is offensive content and what are the correct parameters to identifying such content. 

Any content, be it text, image, video, audio, or in any other form, which depicts violence, nudity, or hate speech can be termed sensitive content. The rules that determine which content is sensitive depend upon a platform’s specific requirements. If a platform wants to promote debate and discussion, its content rules may permit content that would otherwise be turned off and considered unsafe. For reference, Brut Media, a French video publisher sheds light with feature-based short or long-form original videos that primarily focus on unreported news, covering politics, entertainment, social justice and culture. The digital media company targets millennials and Gen Z with “socially conscious” news videos, without the use of algorithms; rather it thrives on sparking conversation on social media with a values-driven approach. On the contrary, Facebook has a stringent content moderation policy that is AI automated and is deployed at an ex-ante stage where a video or photograph is screened at submission.

For a platform or a business where most of the users are young, and content is mostly immediately published, for better user experience, automated content moderation is advocated as it ensures that sensitive content is not exposed to young users. It is no longer a secret that content is a core ingredient of any brand; it portrays the brand ethos and integrity. Brands are now vigilant about what goes out there that defines their values and objectivity. Convoluted content needs smart moderation. Most brands are extending to create a comprehensive and safe ecosystem that promotes self-expression without violating community guidelines, and expressing creativity without advocating harm and malice. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are significantly helping in sieving large volumes of content with negligible human intervention and as my nephew stated, “keeping the bad stuff away”.

My nephew made the writing of this blog on Content Moderation an easier task with his simple innocent words, “bad guys post bad videos, they make everyone hate everyone and start a zombie apocalypse. My mama says don’t watch those videos, else you will turn into a zombie too.” Guess mums are always right, were my last thoughts as I wrapped up the blog and we headed out for our date; Excited to have a serious conversation on the zombie apocalypse and alien attack, of course with a dose of Peppa pig. 

My Time My Content

Travelling intensely these last few weeks has made me homesick; the feeling of being in my own country, the connection with the people, the language, the food, the happy clamour. Ruminating on this, I turned to television, hoping to connect with my native roots on foreign soil. My first stop was Netflix, but it did seem like I had already watched everything that was of interest to me! Or perhaps the process of searching for content that I wanted to watch was just too time-consuming. This got me thinking about whether there was a content deficiency in general or the creators were not tapping the right content that viewers like me wanted to watch. This blog was thus inspired, researched and written.

Netflix was launched in India at the beginning of 2016, and during the pandemic, it gained a strong toehold being a steadfast companion during the global lockdown. However in recent times despite some astounding international movies and shows, it has seen a marked drop in its market share, which was also reflected in the response from the stock markets.

This ofcourse led me to think why audiences were more loyal to one streaming platform over another? 

Incidentally, a number of OTT players have emerged over the years and have been able to capture the attention of audiences willing to pay for custom content.  I reckoned some of the Facebook groups that I was a part of were like the Illuminatis of OTT with members of these groups being serious seekers of good content. As I scrolled through their recommendation on the must-watch content, Panchayat; a home-grown show on Amazon Prime got the highest recommendations. A few episodes down, it was a beautiful story of a city boy who had moved to the countryside and showcased his hardships and subtle philosophical realisations. The show was extremely relatable and touched a nerve. Such content that is personalised and created for the masses can augment viewership in copious numbers. Most consumers are egging for personalised content that gives them the feeling of home and cultural relatability. 

I suppose, in a country where the per capita income is low, the viability of an expensive subscription plan for any household is of concern and the onus is on the OTT platform to make their offers and content attractive to justify this spend. The principal conundrum on hand also is the availability of content pertinent to the common folk. Although shows like Stranger Things, Money Heist, Homeland, Chernobyl are lauded, the common vernacular populus struggles to apprehend and relate to such shows. On the same line, another significant factor was the discontinuation of some great shows leaving the audience on a cliffhanger. Shows like Made in Heaven, Sacred Games, The Test Case, and Asur on myriad platforms; however, the long gaps between separate seasons made the viewers grow impatient and lose interest.

India speaks many languages and just ten languages gain 50-100 million traction globally. Regional content like Dhononjoy (Bengali), The Great Indian Kitchen (Malayalam), Queen (Tamil), KGF series ( Kannada), RRR (Telugu), and Aarya (Hinglish) has exploded on the OTT platform primarily because almost all these shows have elements relatable and entertaining to the larger populace.

This influx of content and subscribers means that there is now more content available to an average subscriber than ever before. Personalisation of content needs to be further fortified with recommendations triggered by past viewing data, demographics, ranking of content and targeted marketing along with great retention plans and seasonal strategies eg. summer specials, Christmas packages etc. Today every OTT platform must match the content to its audience, ensure timely delivery and offer access seamlessly across all platforms and devices.

A quote that always lingers in my mind and seems apt here, “You can take an Indian out of India, but you can never take India out of an Indian.” can also be applied to any other country or region. As a person who quite enjoys kaleidoscopic content in English, Spanish, Korean, Japanese and South American, I cannot deny finding that little extra comfort and entertainment in watching something that makes me feel at home.

Seize Monetization Opportunities to Create New Value for Your Video Content

The rapid growth in the demand and consumption of video content for enterprise, sports, media, entertainment, and gaming has created fresh opportunities for organizations to attract new customers, deliver personalized content, and garner high engagement. Business leaders tasked with content delivery need to seize these opportunities to create new value for an increasing number of viewers of live and on-demand videos. 

Let’s look at a phased approach that brings out the unique attributes of video content to take advantage of the increased viewership:

Leveraging metadata as the foundation of content monetization

The latest research from Juniper shows that the total market value of digital content will reach $432 billion by 2026, representing a growth of 105% over the next 5 years. Moreover, content owners are increasingly looking for ways to modernize both existing and new video content to attract new users to their platforms.

To make sense of this mountain of video data, metadata becomes incredibly important. A strong metadata foundation can power centralized searches, helping find relevant content across multiple streams. If an asset can be easily found, it can be reused and repurposed in different ways to deliver tailored content for end customers. In addition, metadata provides a structured reference that allows for the right placement of ad content in your video streams, thereby increasing the visibility and ROI of the sponsor.

Increasing revenue streams with more personalized content

With an increasing focus on content personalization, the industry leaders are grappling with questions such as “How do I maximize engagement from long-form video content?” or “How do I publish in real-time or faster than others to attract new users?” 

For any sports or media platform, the ability to create a 360° fan engagement, using more tailored or theme-based content and channels, can be a key differentiation to create new value. AI-led personalization works on all these factors and helps in reducing the costs of customer acquisition, offering customized recommendations of relevant content, and increasing average user content consumption, thereby increasing engagement and LTV. The ability to personalize new and old content and share it across all platforms in real-time using AI generates a far higher ROI than doing it manually.     

Analysing which key moments garner maximum attention

In the current era of exploding video content, understanding the user experience and being able to capitalize on that understanding will be key to creating new value. Using certain parameters, organizations can create short-form video content from any perspective and test which key moments garner maximum viewership. This analysis helps content owners evaluate and refine the messaging and storytelling to support new subscriber growth and retention. 

It’s time to get more out of your content, stay tuned for our next blog post!

How AI elevates video editing and delivers a superior customer experience?

The surge seen in the viewership of video content in the past decade, driven by evolving viewing options, has further intensified during the pandemic. Globally, video traffic comprised 80% of all consumer internet traffic in 2021, according to Cisco. Moreover, by 2023, the spend on video content is expected to grow to more than $100 billion, as per a recent Forrester report.

Now the key question: since videos now play such an integral part in every aspect of our lives, how does AI influence the equation?

Artificial intelligence and machine learning-based algorithms have redefined the video creation process into an effortless and viable one and have a far wider impact than just technical support. Based on pre-defined parameters, AI can tag and create content around specific events and characters with great precision. Curated content – engaging your target audience, is the cutting edge advantage needed to lead the race.

For instance, Netflix has been employing AI to create and personalise trailers based on demographics in an effort to increase reach and reduce marketing costs.

One of the most popular applications of AI is to create short-form videos that drive higher customer engagement. Most sports broadcasters have been creating key moments for major sporting events such as the Wimbledon, IPL, and FIFA to name a few, with neural algorithms in real-time to garner viewership. AI-empowered high-value content allows rights holders to have a broader consumer reach while making it shareable in a shorter time span.

The landscape is fast-changing – AI innovations have changed the way one has ever imagined video content, setting new benchmarks in the users’ Quality of experience (QoE). The algorithm helps create hyer-personalised content and increases the potential for synthesising dynamic ads embedded within an active scene without any alteration. It also gives insights into viewer patterns and trends and makes predictions to optimise the business processes, thus offering improved relevancy and increased revenue options.

Recent research had marketers reveal that 93% of viewers actioned a purchase after watching a video or a contextual advertisement. According to GQ, the classic aviators from Ray-Ban RB3025 took a steep jump in sales on all platforms by almost 40%  after Tom Cruise was seen sporting his timeless look from 1986 in Top Guns: Maverick.

Conclusion

Artificial intelligence is redefining the video editing orbit, where numerous brands are capturing and capitalising on the opportunities at hand. Media channels, OTT/streaming providers, and CSPs (communication service providers) managing broadcast assets must modernize and shift to an AI-led approach to compete in the current environment. By leveraging innovation and tools provided by system integrators and managed services providers, the industry can harness the full potential of the video to drive subscriber growth and manage churn.

It may be worth resharing what Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon said at a conference for AI, “We are at the beginning of a golden age of AI. Recent  advancements have already led to inventions that previously lived in the realm of science fiction -and we have just scratched the surface of what’s possible.”