A Race to Redefine How We Watch Sports

    • Apple, Facebook, and Amazon have all invested in building the modern sports fan experience.
    • Facebook recently filed a patent to create game recaps using data from the crowd, announcer speech patterns, social media, and other data.

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As streaming becomes the norm and artificial intelligence gets integrated into more products, tech giants have an open playing field to recreate the sports watching experience.

Last week, Facebook filed a patent to create digital game recaps that tap into a contest’s most dramatic and pivotal moments. The recaps would be generated by everything from social media posts to the speed and quality of a commentators’ speech.

Facebook is scaling back on live sports broadcasts, instead betting on recaps to engage fans. The social network signed deals with the NFL and International Cricket Council to distribute post-game content.

Amazon has invested in augmenting the viewing experience through its X-Ray system in Amazon Prime Video. The company even pulls data from sensors on NFL players’ shoulder pads and the game ball. 

“Every year we have continued to make the experience more customized and more personal for fans,” Amazon’s VP of global sports video Marie Donoghue told Forbes.

Amazon is reportedly paying the NFL $1 billion per year to broadcast Thursday Night Football despite weak viewership on its one exclusive broadcast to date. Amazon Web Services, the company’s server and data provider, has partnership deals with the NFL, NHL, Formula One, NASCAR, Bundesliga, and PGA Tour.

Apple, meanwhile, acquired NextVR, a startup that provides sports and entertainment content for virtual reality headsets. NextVR has deals with the NBA, Fox Sports, and Wimbledon.

During its product rollout event in October, Apple featured the ability to watch NFL games from up to seven camera angles simultaneously — including streams from players’ helmets.