The NBA and Microsoft inked a multiyear deal to create a new artificial intelligence-enabled streaming service that delivers personalized game broadcasts and additional sports content.
Microsoft Azure’s machine learning and data analytics will present users with localized experiences tailored to their preferences and rewards participation including real-time start overlays, alternative audio and video feeds and gaming elements. Users can earn loyalty points when they watch games, share content from the platform or buy tickets or merchandise, as reported by Variety.
The NBA says fans could potentially apply tiered rewards, status badges and streaks toward discounts on tickets, exclusive content, merchandise or the NBA League Pass, its subscription service that includes out-of-market games.
Additionally, through Microsoft Azure’s cloud computing services, the NBA will show users videos from its archives based on viewer history and location. The NBA aims to continue customizing these experiences for fans, coaches and broadcasters with the insights it gathers from the platform.
The deal marks Microsoft’s new role as the NBA’s official AI partner, entitlement partner of the NBA Draft Combine starting next season and associate partner of future events including NBA All-Star, WNBA All-Star and MGM Resorts NBA Summer League.
The new streaming service, which will become an updated version of the NBA app, is in development and will go live as soon as possible.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said of the announcement, “Our goal, working with Microsoft, is to create customized content that allows fans — whether they are in an NBA arena or watching from anywhere around the world — to immerse themselves in all aspects of the game and engage directly with our teams and players.”
Over the last few years the NBA has been working to reach younger fans via interactive digital experiences similar to those that Twitch offers. In December 2017, the NBA teamed up with Twitch to stream up to six minor league games per week during the season. And in June 2019, ESPN hosted a telecast of Game 2 of the NBA Finals on the ESPN app. Mimicking Twitch esports experiences, the game play included emoji-like symbols to appeal to viewers ages 12-17.