Technology Record - Issue 27: Winter 2022

139 MED I A & COMMUN I CAT I ONS A vision of how such experiences will look is provided in the reimagined NBA app, which is powered by a new, integrated digital platform that has been built by the league in partnership with Microsoft. The platform is able to aggregate data and then act on it using artificial intelligence and machine learning to adapt how fans watch the game and surface insights that they will find interesting. “What makes this app unique in the sports world is that it’s both a deeply personalised experience and an all-in-one destination,” says Chris Benyarko, executive vice president of the NBA’s direct to consumer division. “We think this platform makes it easy to be an NBA fan. It allows people to immerse themselves in what’s happening with the league.” However, creating these experiences requires a significant amount of data about a viewer and their preferences, meaning that consumers need to feel comfortable and engaged enough to share that information. “Customer engagement is an important area for us at the moment,” says Davis. “How do we draw the consumer in and reward them for interacting more with content and content owners? Rather than taking the Big Brother approach to gathering data, we’re looking to have consumers willingly provide the data they’re comfortable providing in return for a better experience.” Arul also highlights the technical difficulties of following consumers throughout the different platforms on which they view content. “The challenge right now is in standardisation and identification,” he says. “Different apps have their own ways of doing things, and to bring them together, you’ve got to standardise how they collect and distribute data. Then you need to be able to identify who a person is across different devices and mediums to create a single profile, which will be essential in creating a metaverse.” To help resolve these difficulties, Microsoft is working with industry stakeholders to create an industry standard, which it believes will benefit its customers over time. “Microsoft is always customerobsessed,” says Arul. “From my experience, the first focus is on working with the customer to achieve what they want. But we’re also working with consortia and other stakeholders to develop standards to help customers in the long run, rather than building 500 different apps from scratch to do the same thing. With an ever-expanding universe of content now available for consumers, Davis and Arul believe that the future for media organisations will be in creating a personal experience. “Content on its own will not be enough,” says Davis. “It will be the combination of video and data to personalise the user experience that will be compelling for consumers going forward.” “The key is getting the right content in front of a consumer as soon as possible,” adds Arul. “Once you’ve achieved that, the personalised experience can kick in.” “ The most interesting changes will be in the relationship with the consumer” SCOTT DAVIS