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Tuesday, 03 July 2018 20:15

Microsoft partners with PGA TOUR to enhance golf telecasts


The PGA world golf tour has adopted a new Microsoft solution designed to give fans of the game more personalised content experiences.

Traditionally, a small staff had focused on broadcast and social operations for event telecasts, mining the video content and published highlights. But looking up, filtering and comparing key statistics and content in order to find interesting patterns that tell a compelling story to fans was time-consuming work that limited the clips they could produce.

Working alongside Microsoft, the PGA TOUR has now evolved the broadcast and social operations for event telecasts process, utilising its scoring system, ShotLink powered by CDW, to help launch the PGA TOUR Content Relevancy Engine.

Powered by Microsoft Azure, the new CRE solution helps the TOUR gain more insights into its vast library of competition content.

“One of the goals we have on PGA TOUR LIVE is to show compelling information for every shot, and for every player for every tournament, we have more than 400 shots of content (six featured players in every PGA TOUR event, 72 strokes on average),” says Steve Evans, the TOUR’s senior vice-president of information systems.

“The new solution creates volume and is more efficient, which frees up our broadcast and social teams to focus on more creative stories.”

Evans says that for the TOUR, using CRE means being able to deliver the kind of information fans crave, quickly.

“What’s really exciting here is that if you’re in a highlight production business, you decide what’s compelling for fans. The problem with that is being limited by not understanding contet,” Evans says.

“For instance, if we’ve got a young player the general fan hasn’t heard of, and we’ve captured 50 video clips of that player throughout the course of the tournament, none which would have probably merited a producer making the decision to say, hey that’s a highlight clip.

“But let’s say that player wins the tournament in some exciting fashion and it gathers a lot of attention and people are now interested in learning more about that player. The fact that we’ve automated all of the video highlights makes us immediately able to share those and make them available to the fans. These nuggets are compelling to provide context to the shot that they’re seeing.”

Evans says the  intelligent solution powered by the Microsoft cloud carries the burden of finding patterns, giving production staff a filtered list of options so they can do what they do best – tell stories that engage more fans.

“Say a player has shot from a bunker to win a tournament, and it looks like they’re about to do it again,” says Evans. “Some producers might remember footage of that previous win or the great fan reaction that went with it, but there’s only so much a producer can keep in his head. This solution could send messages to a video producer in a broadcast truck, suggesting clips to play and other content that’s available.”

In 2016, the PGA TOUR established a partnership with Microsoft as the official analytics partner of the PGA TOUR.

Using analytics services, machine learning and other services from Azure, the TOUR is now able to give fans relevant, personalised stories to provide a heightened understanding of situations as they occur.

Evans says that through the PGA TOUR LIVE online and mobile experiences (available by subscription), fans are now able to digest engaging content tailored to the players they follow, across multiple screens, beyond the broadcast.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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