Ready or not, here AI comes!

Stuart Almond, Head of Intelligent Media Services, Sony Europe

AI: Reduce Inconsistencies and Drive Value

Artificial Intelligence here, AI there… Sounds catchy, doesn’t it? But we often talk about automation like it’s AI—let’s make that clear before diving into the adoption of these technologies in the broadcast industry.

The debate still remains on what actually defines Artificial Intelligence. Firstly, there’s automation, meaning the algorithms in a system without human interference. Data analytics, which can reveal patterns and current or future market trends, and make recommendations. AI shouldn’t be confused with automation, despite the fact that both use intelligence to create new efficiencies, reduce inconsistencies and drive value in places it isn’t today.

Where We Stand

Right now, Artificial intelligence is at the beginning of the adoption journey in the broadcast industry. In a recent survey by IABM End-User, they discovered that only 8% of media technology buyers said they had adopted AI before September 2017, 56% said they were likely to do it in the next 2–3 years and 36% said they were unlikely to adopt it. It’s true when people say that adoption of AI is a bit unhurried at the moment. Although, however slow it may be, it’s progressive and there’s no denying that AI is here to stay. The real question now lies in how we integrate it into our workflows from the start of content production, right to the end delivery.

Threats in Today's Content Climate

The Nielsen Total Audience Report shows that teen and young millennials—the 18–27 group—are watching 40% less television than five years ago. For older millennials in the 28–36 age group, it is 25% less. Evidently, the way we consume content is also diverging, meaning consumers have grown a desire for richer, more personalized services, making it essential for media companies to adapt to their expectations to keep on top of the market. AI is undeniably where the industry is heading toward, but like anything new, it comes with challenges and questions to be embraced.

Programming is complex and time-consuming, taking up to 18 months for a concept to become reality, possibly explaining why some companies are reluctant to adapt these technologies. 18 months can be a hefty amount of time for the industry to change drastically. Then a sensitive issue, but I’m sure it’s crossed your minds: AI must not be thought of as a way to ‘get rid of heads.’ Automation and AI are both building blocks toward a future with deep learning at its very core. To determine the right decisions, companies absolutely do need experts to work on and with AI to provide the most engaging content to their audience.

Keeping Up with the Media Giants

Competing with the big players in online streaming service like Netflix and Amazon can be a challenge in today’s content climate. These providers are constantly looking at new ways and technologies to improve their services and provide better recommendations to their customers. By training their software through neural networks, this creates an artificial simulation mimicking how the human brain identifies patterns. Netflix has revealed that they save $1 billion a year thanks to AI technology’s ability to automate workflows and reduce customer churn. Broadcasters and media companies need to transform the way they distribute content, starting with the massive amount of data they store.

News and AI

News organizations are also applying AI to enable workflows that are more flexible. In an era where citizen journalism is on the rise, aided by the digital age, news organizations are pushed to their limits in order to get news distributed. Through the use of applications such as speech-to-text, facial recognition or edit corrections, AI will become a real advantage when needing to get news out fast. The Press Association have already adapted AI seamlessly into their workflows, working alongside Urbs Media, a data-driven media company, to deliver hundreds of semi-automated stories for local clients.

Value of AI

The potential is already beginning to show: another recent piece of research by TV Technology revealed that two thirds of the organizations that have tested AI have deployed the technology for at least one critical role in their workflow. AI will inevitably revolutionize the broadcast sector within 5 years, particularly in an industry where keeping up with the latest technological advancements is critical to grow and engage your audiences.

Business decisions will naturally drive the need for AI, but AI will automatically begin to drive business decisions. Where should the focus on AI be now? This should be on developing technologies by employing subject experts, giving better intelligence to provide customers with the enriched content they want. Pushing aside the worries on everyone’s mind like changes in ways of working, and embracing the value of AI to understand what it can bring tomorrow that is not possible today.

Intelligent Media Services from Sony