News and Society

World Cup Highlight Machine Just the Start of Thuuz’s Custom Ambitions


As a child growing up in the Bay Area, Wayne Sieve had the good fortune to see the San Jose Earthquakes host the New York Cosmos—and Péle. This was 1976 when Sieve was nine years old, and the match, as you’d expect, made an impression.

Sieve is now EVP at Thuuz, a company whose proprietary metadata and excitement ratings power Fox Sports’ recently launched World Cup Highlight Machine. Because he had the chance to see the Brazilian legend play, Sieve finds himself gravitating toward highlights of the 1958 Brazil team that won the World up with Péle, then 17, becoming the youngest player to ever play in a final—and he scored two goals.

Posted by Joe Lemire on Wednesday, June 13, 2018

IBM created the user interface and tapped into Watson’s AI capabilities and processing power, but Thuuz (slang for “enthused”) processed each of the 300 matches into the database, tagging games with underlying identifiers that enable the searches. Every World Cup final and most knockout matches are included.

This sort of real-time, curated highlight reel, Sieve believes, is the future of sports storytelling. A visitor to the Highlight Machine that selects “Brazil” and “goals” is treated to a 10-minute playlist of 36 scores, from 1958 through 2014, all delivered in seconds.

“What I’m really excited about right now is applying data science to video,” Sieve said. “It’s clearly a focus for us and will be as we continue to move forward. I just think creating more interesting fan engagement opportunities with meta data—that’s really the next big phase in digital. It’s not just ‘go clip a highlight’ but ‘let’s use machine learning, let’s use data science, let’s use sophisticated means of breaking things down and scaling it to create customized, personalized content experiences.’”

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Thuuz considers dozens of inputs, from statistics and play-by-play to betting lines and social chatter, to evaluate the action and produce its overall excitement ratings as well as create the custom highlights.

Sieve worked in streaming and video for 18 years at Yahoo Sports, Ustream, and EverSport Media, the company he founded and sold to Pluto TV last year. He called the World Cup highlight machine “one nice, high-profile example of what we do,” but that project is just the start. Sieve foresees a time in the not-too-distant future when sports fans who missed a weekend of action can sit in front of their screen on Monday, select their favorite teams across all sports and immediately see highlights from all of them in a trans-sport clip package.

“That’s where we see the road ahead,” Sieve said.

Posted by Joe Lemire on Wednesday, June 13, 2018





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