Esports & Digital Sport, Multiple sports, Global

Opinion | Using AI for sports production is essential in the post-pandemic world

Mark Andrews, global sales manager at Mobile Viewpoint, explains how artificial intelligence is changing the game for sports content producers.

by Mark Andrews
Opinion | Using AI for sports production is essential in the post-pandemic world

Solidsport is the largest live sports streaming service in Scandinavia and is both a content owner and distributor of live sports. By allowing clubs, leagues and tournament owners the ability to host their own broadcast channel and generate their own revenue, Solidsport embarked on a new way to create cost-effective live content from sports grounds by utilising the power of artificial intelligence (AI) for sports production.

Solidsport took the decision to partner with Mobile Viewpoint, a Dutch-based company which has pedigree in developing live streaming technology and boasts a large range of global broadcasters and TV production companies as customers.

Mobile Viewpoint has developed IQ-Sports Producer (IQ-SP), which is an AI-based sports streaming solution that produces live sports games for TV channels, over-the-top (OTT) platforms and social media, but without the need and expense of on-site camera people. Ideal for both indoor and outdoor sports that don’t have the capital and resource of the major event organisers, IQ-SP is perfect for tier-two leagues, media rights holders, training sessions, age-group and other grassroots sports properties which have limited budget but require professional productions.

Solidsport decided to accelerate the number of automated sport broadcasts that it covers in Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the Baltic region by adopting AI technology. With the sports market evolving to remote productions and OTT delivery, coupled with the demand for more local and live streamed sports, this new partnership is ideally placed to deliver on the need for low budget, professional live productions. This has become even more relevant as Covid-19 prevents on-site spectators and crew, and offers teams and leagues a new approach to fan engagement whilst driving additional revenue on their subscriptions.

Solidsport is already streaming over 50,000 games a year. During 2019, thousands of teams, clubs and tournaments chose to broadcast live over 45,000 matches and events via Solidsport. The simplicity of live streaming and the opportunity to make money is what has made many sports organisations choose Solidsport. The IQ-SP platform is being adopted at each location to live stream games, complete with graphics and highlights without the need of an on-site camera crew.

Mobile Viewpoint and Solidsport have signed an agreement of cooperation to digitise sports on all levels. Through this partnership, Solidsport will be the exclusive partner to Mobile Viewpoint to install and serve the company's AI cameras in the Nordic region.

"It started already in February this year with the first installation of IQ-Sports Producer in IFU Arena in Uppsala,” says Tobias Thalbäck, the chief executive at Solidsport. "We had been looking into this space for quite some time but we could not find a solution that was good enough.

“After our initial testing, everything was put on hold due to the ongoing pandemic. But after some comprehensive usage during the summer of 2020, we now know that we have the absolute right partner in Mobile Viewpoint for this project.

“With this partnership, we are anticipating fast adoption across all of our markets. We are convinced that this is the future for any modern arena today. Thanks to this partnership we are now able to offer a complete solution to clubs and arena owners at a compelling cost for a professional delivery.”

Michel Bais, the managing director of Mobile Viewpoint, adds: "We are absolutely delighted to start the partnership with Solidsport. By utilising our AI driven IQ-SP platform, Solidsport will be able to create and live stream professional sports productions without the need of a cameraperson or on-site director.”

Solidsport will make ten installations before the end of 2020 and is already in discussions with arena owners and clubs that want to join Solidsport on this journey. As a next step, Solidsport aims to expand the partnership with more markets and over 100 installations during 2021.

“We continue to innovate with AI, and more recently we have added new features that Solidsport will be able to take advantage of,” Bais concludes. “We continue to add new sports, not just traditional indoor and outdoor ball games, but also sports such as cycling and horse jumping. But additionally as part of any sports production, especially where there is no human intervention, viewers wish to see scoreboard overlays and highlight replays, which through the power of AI, we are able to provide making the production even more professional and compelling.

“We are excited to be to cooperating with Solidsport going forward, allowing us to innovate our technology over time. This not only benefits their customers, but allows us to innovate for all our customers based on real-life feedback.”