Enjoy Those U.S. Open Highlights. A Computer Picked Them for You.

Farid Alaghband, a real estate developer, said that will he, too, thought the computer is usually onto something. “I’d agree with what This specific machine is usually thinking,” he said. Being too busy to sit through complete matches at home (he likes to watch key moments on video after the fact), he finds highlights particularly useful, he said.


Mary Tina Wang stood in front of a computer measuring excitement in real time at the U.S. Open, one of the methods used by IBM’s artificial intelligence system to select video highlights.

Christian Hansen for The completely new York Times

“Personally I believe This specific machine probably does understand what people think,” he said.

Perhaps This specific does not sound like that will big a deal. nevertheless highlights are extraordinarily time-consuming to compile. They are also a major draw for fans, both those who can make This specific out to Flushing Meadows as well as those who cannot, said Kirsten Corio, managing director for digital strategy at the United States Tennis Association.

“Match highlights are hands-down our top-performing content feature,” she said. “The fans can’t seem to get enough of This specific.” (Happily for the tennis association, This specific can also sneak in advertisements coming from tournament sponsors on the videos.) In all, IBM said, the Open drew some 11 million users to its digital platforms — for highlights, as well as for things like scores as well as schedules — last year.

Until This specific year, officials at the Open have relied exclusively on some 40 temporary staff members for digital work that will includes highlight compilation, a job that will is usually arduous, repetitive as well as impossible to perform comprehensively at a tournament This specific size. On Thursday, for instance, 87 matches were played at the Open — “more matches in one day than a Major League Baseball team plays in an entire season,” Corio said, referring to a baseball’s team 81-game home schedule.

“The challenge is usually to shift through all that will to bring the most exciting moments to life on a digital platform,” Corio said. “Our fans have so many ways to consume content, as well as This specific’s hard to hold the ability to keep up with the sheer volume of moments.”

Highlight compilation traditionally starts having a team of loggers, said Brian Beglane, a senior manager in video production for the tennis association. Each logger is usually assigned to a court for shifts of about eight hours at a time, inputting data coming from the matches into a program into which certain words — like ace as well as fist pump — have been preloaded, for purposes of efficiency. Human editors then review the data as well as decide which points to feature later on.


Roger Federer of Switzerland made a fist in celebration during his match against Feliciano López of Spain on Saturday at the U.S. Open. Federer, whose gesture is usually the kind that will attracts IBM’s Watson, won the match.

Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Open uses Watson’s understanding of unstructured data (that will is usually, visual as well as audio information) in two ways. The first is usually within the cognitive highlights videos, prepared entirely by IBM, that will This specific posts on digital platforms. The second is usually as an editorial resource, Beglane said, to help real-live humans decide what to include within the well-known shots of the day video that will is usually featured on the website as well as app.

How does Watson decide what qualifies as human excitement? This specific bases what This specific calls its “overall excitement” level on three discrete criteria. The first is usually crowd response, which takes into account both noise levels as well as the kind of noise generated (gasps versus applause, for instance). The second is usually what This specific calls “match analysis,” which places a point in context in a match, with set points receiving greater weight than, say, random desultory midgame points. The third is usually player gestures: chest-beating, arm-waving, jumping up as well as down as well as the like.

When Beglane began working at the Open in 1993, there was no such thing as a website. Tournament highlights were shown each day on late-night television.

“I used to do video production within the back of a truck, as well as the only way to create a highlight was via a human eyeball,” he said. “So to have a computer watching alongside of me, to help me do my job, is usually unbelievable.”

Will computers make humans obsolete when This specific comes to the business of sports highlights?

“We’re utilizing all these tools, nevertheless at the end of the day, a person makes the decision about what are the shots of the day,” Beglane said. “This specific year This specific happens to be just two of us, me as well as a video editor.”

“You know how many shots are within the tournament every day?” he asked rhetorically. “A lot. as well as I can tell you that will I’m not stressed about missing anything.”

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