Following the modern NBA almost demands a degree of social-media savvy. As info breaks daily on Twitter and other channels, often directly from teams, players and plugged-in reporters, following the league on a nightly basis is more streamlined than ever, but also requires viewers to keep up. As discourse reverberates surrounding in-game events, there’s an increasing need to see for yourself, re-share and chime in.
The league has taken new steps to facilitate that process. You might have already noticed the velocity at which highlights beam out nightly, that a massive quarter from Steph Curry can be made available in a matter of minutes, such as but not limited to the following:
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Now that you’ve watched Curry cook and your heart rate has returned to normal levels, let’s continue. In the pre-YouTube, before-smartphone era of sports watching, highlight clips channeled sausages in that, as the saying goes, it was often better not to watch them being made. That process usually involved manual labor, sifting through film and several cups of coffee—you get the gist. That’s changed in 2015, as the NBA has partnered with WSC Sports Technologies to accelerate and magnify tailored content production for its various markets.
Last week, SI.com took a trip to the league office for a behind-the-scenes look at the new tech, which has enabled an unprecedented level of distribution, sharing and outreach possibilities for basketball. Watching the programs in action is impressive, as the interface works in real-time to produce professional-quality clips in a matter of minutes with no need for meticulous legwork. After a pilot run in the D-League last season, WSC’s technology now delivers video to the league’s official social channels, global affiliates and 18 of its 30 teams in addition to the D-League and WNBA.
The AVGEN (Automatic Video Generator) identifies play actions in real time using audio, video and archived data. Sets of rules help automate workflow, so anytime someone scores 20 points, their performance can be instantly archived into highlight reels of varying lengths featuring player graphics and clip transitions. In building its content pools, the NBA runs 600 sets of rules nightly. Once manufactured, clips can be published directly to social platforms in videos or gifs using Clipro, a cloud-based video-editing tool. The efficiency and speed allows for an unlimited amount of content, although not everything makes it online (we’ll pass on all 10 of DeAndre Jordan’s missed free throws).
League representatives were especially excited with the tech’s potential for growing the game around the world. During last season’s Finals, a highlight package of Andrew Bogut’s blocks was the most-viewed video in Australia, so it doesn’t take a lot to recognize the value. And thinking ahead, the power of the tech could make the lives of team video personnel infinitely easier. The league is still determining the degree to which the technology will be made available, but with easy-to-use video of individual plays already at fans’ disposal online, some degree of public utility doesn’t feel too far off.
The NBA reported a record-high 4.2 billion video views on NBA.com and NBA mobile from last season, a number that now feels sure to trend upward. So pick up your phones and rest assured: when Kristaps Porzingis leads the Knicks to a sixth straight title in 15 years, you can relive every putback.