A.I. Meets Analytics in Boost-Arria Partnership, Personalizing Advanced Stats

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Boost Sport AI initially designed its analytics platform for college coaches, offering online hubs of beyond-the-box-score data for clients. Boost tracks basketball players using game footage, for instance, and promises to surface actionable trends.

To make the findings legible, Boost enlisted natural language generation tech from Arria to turn data tables into sentences, such as: When Johnny Juzang is on the floor, 25% of UCLA’s three-point attempts are open looks.

In October, Boost raised a $1.3 million seed round, led by TitletownTech, a partnership between the Green Bay Packers and Microsoft.

Now, the Seattle-based startup and Arria are teaming up. The new “Arria x Boost platform,” announced Tuesday, combines the companies’ data analysis and natural language capabilities with an eye towards enterprise customers. The tool is a text editor that allows writers to incorporate relevant sports information—like action recaps, season trends and top performances—and plugs into existing distribution channels like email or social media. Creators can insert a trigger word that is later automatically filled in with a relevant stat.

The most straightforward use might be an automated game story that turns a box score into a narrative. But Boost Sport AI CEO Mustafa Abdul-Hamid said he doesn’t want to replace the sportswriters of the world. (Phew.) Instead, he mentioned media companies, commerce brands and sportsbooks, which could use the tool to augment their existing copy with deeper data.

The platform is designed to surface the most engaging details (automatically highlighting a player’s 30 points rather than her two assists, for instance) and can be tweaked to insert different stats based on consumer attributes. A sportsbook email to casual bettors could mention a team’s winning streak while a simultaneous version to diehards highlighted detailed player split numbers. Abdul-Hamid said a single template for a match recap could produce more than 60 different automated messages once various personalizations and relevancy factors are accounted for. The system currently supports basketball and soccer.

As analytics continue to permeate the sports world, data-driven insights have increasingly become a commercial opportunity as well. Real-time basketball tracking company ShotTracker signed Learfield IMG to represent it in the sponsorship marketplace last year. Meanwhile ESPN and MLB Network have used stat-focused broadcasts to attract and retain younger audiences. In the betting world, recently acquired Action Network relies on analysis to drive its subscription and affiliate business. The NFL’s Next Gen Stats program provides advertising for Amazon Web Services while working as a storytelling tool for the league.

“With customers locked down, they’ve become more digitally connected than ever with their teams and affiliations,” Boost adviser and longtime Nike exec Tim Mitchell said. At the same time, brands have had to go all-in on digital engagement. “[Customers] are looking for more than the standard email their friends got.”

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