M&E Daily

AI Integration into Data, Analytics is Transforming the Industry, MESA Members Say

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into data and analytics platforms is transforming the way media content is being created and distributed, according to Microsoft, RSG Media and BTI Studios.

The unique use of data-driven connectivity and backend systems allow for greater efficiencies and a seamless experience that benefits creators, distributors and ultimately consumers as well. The resultant user data, which is ultimately interpreted by humans, is being leveraged for consumers with regard to scale, engagement and reach, according to the companies.

“The whole spectrum of AI” and machine learning (ML) represents a “huge toolbox that you just have to find the right part of — that Swiss Army knife” — as a media company, Scott Bounds, U.S. media and cable industry lead at Microsoft, said July 25 during a panel session called “Smart Analytics with AI” at the Smart Content Summit East event, part of the Media & Entertainment (M&E) Day at the Microsoft Conference Center.

“As you start working with customers” on AI, “you really have to position it right,” he warned attendees, noting: “As a technology guy, you can’t go into a bunch of creatives and say ‘We don’t need you anymore. I have data and AI and we’re going to edit your movie and we’re going to do all this.’ …. There’s reasons why that doesn’t work.”

One Microsoft customer, Primestream — a specialist in media asset management (MAM) – has gained efficiency by using AI, he noted, adding: “The rate of change is incredible” now, and “the stuff that we talk about casually now… was science fiction four years ago.”

But he cautioned that if a company spends 18 months to two years “building something, you’re going to be behind the curve by the time you’re done” because of how fast AI advances are being made. Companies must gauge how to effectively add “incremental functionality or else you’re just going to be living in a bubble,” he said.

Pointing to the network of thousands of people around the world who do subtitling of video content for BTI Studios, Chris Carey, its chief revenue officer and managing director for the Americas, said that’s an area “ripe for AI implementation, and we’re doing our tests right now on services” that will integrate AI into the process. When taught and when given enough materials to learn a language for translation, an AI system “can speed up the process by 50 percent at best” now, he said.

“But I still have to put a human” in quality control “in front of it because invariably there’s nuance, invariably there’s context that gets missed,” Carey pointed out. However, he predicted the AI systems will keep improving.

Somebody he worked with predicted that eventually we won’t even need actors – that we can just sample George Clooney’s voice and synthesize it into 32 languages, he noted. But Carey predicted: “That’s a little ways out. So, we’ll keep building studios and we’ll keep recording people that act well in that language and know the dialect and so on.”

Through RSG Media’s Audience Analytics offering, meanwhile, networks are equipped with innovative self-service solutions that feature a unique mix of data analytics with business understanding for their strategic competitive advantage, according to Shiv Sehgal, chief product officer at RSG Media.

“From my perspective, machine learning is where the focus should be” by media companies when it comes to AI today, Sehgal told attendees, noting AI and ML can be used to increase efficiency and address data management needs to help automate processes. In addition, he said: “Where the industry is right now, we don’t need bots. We need data to help understand how to decrease the risk in investment in new content and how to” distribute content internationally, with dubbing and subtitling when needed.

There is, meanwhile, a big difference between AI and ML, panel moderator Guy Finley, president of the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA), stressed, calling AI an extension of ML. It’s important for companies to not get overly concerned about AI taking everybody’s jobs and not expecting too much from the technology also. Every few months, he hears discussions about how AI or blockchain will save the industry, he noted. All too often, companies will go into AI or ML thinking the technology will save their lives, but they soon realize it will take three years of hard work and a lot of investment to just get across the hurdle of what needs to be done, he said. He went on to predict it’s going to take a long time before AI is implemented throughout the industry.

The 2018 M&E Day, which also included Content Protection Summit East conference tracks, was produced by MESA, in association with the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA), the Hollywood IT Society (HITS) and the Smart Content Council, and was presented by Microsoft, with sponsorship by Akamai, BTI Studios, Independent Security Evaluators, LiveTiles, MarkLogic, RSG Media, ThinkAnalytics, Amazon Web Services, the Entertainment ID Registry (EIDR), the Trusted Partner Network (TPN) and Richey May Technology Solutions.