The 2020 AI and Chatbot Landscape for Sports, Entertainment, and Media

robot, sports, media, entertainment, chatbot

The media industry is yet to have its “wow” AI or chatbot moment, but that’s not for lack of trying. Innovation among media operators is likely to see something amazing happen in 2020 as the rise of AI and the need for people to communicate about the sports teams, movies or shows they love reaches a critical mass.

Media and entertainment brands have huge, engaged audiences out there already, and are always looking for new ways to communicate with them. Cinema chains and studios have already experimented with bots and AI, but that breakout moment of recognition and plenty of coverage in the mainstream press is yet to occur.

In such a fluid and dynamic landscape, it takes just one hit and every act or promoter will be wondering how they can use a bot or AI service to take the next step. Overall, chatbots will be a near $10 billion market by 2024 according to the latest MarketsandMarket’s research (payment required), growing some 30% in that time with a huge focus on social media and North America.

As bots boom, businesses and markets of all sizes are looking for new use cases. And in cyclical markets like sports, TV and movies, bots are helping to get people interested in teams and shows as the morass of traditional mass media coverage, turgid promos, the hellish coverage cycles and faux reviews that all drag down on consumer opinion.

People read fewer reviews, care less about match reports and transfer gossip that is over-sensationalised to a ludicrous degree, leaving them detached from traditional media sources. Bots can both help fill in the gaps, and add something new and genuine to the conversation linking specific shows, films and sports teams to their fans directly.

Chatbot interest among consumers and adoption among businesses continues to rise. But there’s perhaps nowhere that has more interest to chat than the world of sports, media and entertainment. Take the recently concluded show Silicon Valley, where else, who’s developers used a chatbot as part of the app to help fans get to know the cast better. Or, take MTV that let viewers vote for a recent MTV award and revealed the nominees via a Messenger bot – there are plenty of ways a bot can be used in the media.

Also in music, Dua Lipa provided a way for her fans to communicate via a chatbot, and share their pics with the artist. Whatever the brand being sold, or the message being pushed – more stars and big names are using bots to get fans involved. Fantasy always has an additional benefit as “real” heroes can communicate anytime, as when Marvel used a bot to represent Spider-Man and a recent series of comics.

Sports booming with bots

In the world of sports, plenty of NBA, NFL and global soccer teams like Barcelona Arsenal football club took a fair dive recently using club-legend Robert Pires as the avatar for a chatbot on the club’s social media including Facebook, Kik and others. The rationale for these bots is clear, they help engage with fans, sell tickets and merchandise, and provide detail and data on upcoming matches and the club’s stars.

The business interest may be less about what happens on the pitch, but revenue coming in from other sources. Naturally, success will help them sell more tickets, jerseys and caps, but beyond the top tier teams, it can help attract new fans to the team, and help those with fledgling global audiences connect with those fans in a multilingual way using AI.

Beyond the teams, the leagues are also using bots to grab that global audience. For the fresh NBA season, an official NBA chatbot on Facebook Messenger provides a wide range of multimedia fan experiences including video highlights, news and previews, scores, results and standings for a global audience.

Who will go big on media bots?

If you want to see what Hollywood thinks of bots, check out the documentary “More Human Than Human”, that was unveiled during SXSW. It explores the complex role of AI and the consequences of those promises becoming reality.

Perhaps the closest we have got is the Black Mirror episode, Be Right Back where an AI bot uses the social media and digital footprint of a deceased person to keep up a beyond-the-grave conversation with their friends. It even inspired a real-life AI chatbot to help keep the memories of a real fatality alive.

The darkly tech-focused series has used social media, smart-tech, robotics and drones as key aspects across its popular series, so perhaps a future episode will go full chatbot for us and ignite more interest. Or, it will use a chatbot as part of the show’s interface, perhaps showing real messages as part of the plot. The creators are happy to try different approaches, with the most recent choose-your-own-story approach taken in the episode Bandersnatch. 

 Whatever the breakout moment is, other brands, sports and artists need to be ready to understand the market, the technology options and be ready to jump on board, either as an innovator or a very clever me-too, as fans will soon get bored of cookie-cutter approaches.

If your series has a robot in it, they are the ideal candidates to act as a chatbot avatar, allowing a lot of leeway with scripts and responses. As many artists lent their voices to sat navs a decade ago, they could also find popularity in the virtual and digital assistant market.

Bots can help new shows build an audience, provide new ways of broadcasting content and teasers without losing that content to YouTube and endless other media or sports sites. All of which creates an exciting landscape for operators and those looking to attract and keep their audience as the digital media market continues to take primacy over the old media world.

The 2020 AI and Chatbot Landscape for Sports, Entertainment, and Media – TNTIC January 8, 2020

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