Three major Olympics partners highlight plans for AI

It looks like the Olympic Broadcasting Services and two major broadcast rights holding partners are taking some steps toward jumping on the AI bandwagon for the 2024 Summer games in Paris.

OBS, Warner Bros. Discovery (which holds rights to certain events in key European countries via its international arm) and NBC, the RHB in the U.S., offered a preview of the technology at an Olympic AI Agenda event.

Yiannis Exarchos, the CEO of the OBS, Andrew Georgiou, president and managing director for WBD’s U.K. and Ireland branch plus Sports Europe and Molly Solomon, NBC Olympics production executive producer were all on hand in Stratford, U.K., April 19, 2024.

OBS says it’s been exploring ways to integrate AI as far back as 2018, well before the recent craze that was arguably driven primarily by OpenAI’s ChatGPT. 

Work has been centered around the ability for broadcast partners to use AI to quickly generate custom highlight reels from all the footage OBS cameras capture at the various venues. 

This could include being able to break down requests by country, sport and athlete. 

Early implementations of this is already being used in OBS’s workflows to create base cuts of highlights. 

During the Paris games, the automated highlights offerings from OBS will be powered by the AI features it’s already been using. 

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Workflows include having humans review footage and tag it with various descriptions such as gold medal winners, world records and emotion shots of athletes so RHBs can find footage they need quickly, but it hopes to eventually move this process over to AI. This type of technology could also help making exploring the OBS’s vast historic archive of video content more accessible and letting broadcasters bring more history and context to coverage. 

Because the Olympics is inherently a global event, translation becomes a big part of making content accessible to audiences around the world, and the OBS has its eyes on these types of uses as well. 

Meanwhile, there are also some pitfalls in using AI that group is being careful to address, which it’s been working to identify and mitigate. These include respecting intellectual property rights and bias. It’s also been cautious about retaining the human element where it might be the better option.

In the long term, OBS said it doesn’t see AI as a way to eliminate jobs, but rather give its staffers chances to work on tasks that are better handles by humans than AI. These tasks ultimately could be more creative and fulfilling as well as enhancing the services it offers RHBs.