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ESPN cuts real-time closed captioning costs by more than 50 per cent with Microsoft Azure

ESPN cuts real-time closed captioning costs by more than 50 per cent with Microsoft Azure

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Sports broadcaster developed solution through joint venture with Microsoft, Accenture and Verizon

Amber Hickman |


Sports broadcaster ESPN has used the cloud-based automation and artificial intelligence capabilities in Microsoft Azure to more than halve the cost of delivering real-time closed captioning for viewers.

By using Azure AI and cloud-based automation, ESPN has eliminated the need for people to manually transcribe audio content, thereby reducing operating costs, making the service more efficient and improving accessibility for viewers.

ESPN developed the solution through its ESPN Edge Innovation Center, which was launched in 2021 in collaboration with Microsoft, Accenture and 5G provider Verizon. The aim is to use technologies such as augmented and virtual reality, and mobile edge computing to find new ways for fans to experience sports.

“Our company has a long history of embracing emerging technology and being the pacesetter for creating innovative sports media experiences,” said Kevin Lopes, vice president of sports business development and innovation at ESPN, in a Microsoft blog post. “Our Azure-based closed-captioning product will be at the forefront, providing innovative firsts to sports fans everywhere.”

The innovation centre is also currently looking at using cloud technology to give fans greater access to ESPN’s collection of media.

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