Create your own NBA highlight reel in minutes? We're almost there

The National Basketball Association is employing technology that can quickly create custom video packages. It's only a matter of time before that capability is released to fans.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
2 min read
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The NBA is playing with tech that can deliver more custom videos, and do so faster.


Those of you obsessed about seeing every three-pointer or killer crossover from Stephen Curry, take note: The National Basketball Association is tinkering with technology that can ensure you never miss a highlight play.

The NBA said Monday that it is working with Israeli startup WSC Sports Technologies to create customized highlight videos within minutes after a game ends. Initially, the league will use the capability to serve up more video packages based on individual players, particularly international ones in order to help promote the game overseas.

This marks the first time that a major professional league is using such technology. It's also the latest example of the eagerness of those organizations to tap tech to enhance the fan experience, such as the National Football League's embrace of Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet or Major League Baseball's use of streaming video services.

The more interesting announcement may come further down the road, when the NBA and WSC open up the system to basketball fans, allowing them to select the criteria for creating their own highlight reels based on players, teams or the type of play (a slam dunk, a three-pointer and so on). The videos would be a new way for fans to enjoy and keep up with the game.

"There's no reason we couldn't create specific clips from a technology perspective," said Aviv Arnon, vice president of business development for WSC. The company has the tools ready for such a deployment, he added.

Online video is a key way to for fans to partake of the game. In the last season, the NBA logged 4.2 billion video views, including 98 million streams of the NBA Finals on Facebook alone.

The technology can automatically detect specific plays and players and can even sense when the crowd is more amped up. It slices and dices custom video clips in minutes, and it's also smart enough to listen to the commentary so the speakers aren't cut off as one scene transitions to the next. The system allows the NBA to set "rules" that automatically create video if, say, a player scores 45 points in a game.

For now, the NBA plans to use the technology in house and learn more about how consumers receive the added volume of video. "It's something we're looking at," said Michael Allen, senior vice president of digital products and emerging technology for the NBA.

At least initially, international fans can expect more videos of their favorite local players. The NBA has used the system to create, for example, more videos of Australian player and Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut for fans in his home country. There are 100 players who come from outside the US, and the NBA hopes to strengthen its global fan base with a wider array of highlight videos.