Engineering Better Entertainment Experiences with AI

AI, in combination with other emerging technologies is changing how consumers interact with content.
Ariella  Brown
Studio image courtesy of VubiquityAmdocs Media and Vubiquity

As we saw in AI Can Now Pass School Tests but Still Falls Short on the Turing Test, AI has come a long way in terms of school type intelligence, but it still has a long way to go in producing creative output.

However, that does not mean that AI does not play a significant role in the entertainment industry even at present. 


AI's role in entertainment today 

 The answers that Darcy Antonellis, CEO of Vubiquity and Head of Amdocs Media provided to my questions about AI currently plays a key role in both the creation and delivery of entertainment content. Along with other emerging technologies, like AR and VR, it is reshaping both our expectations and the engagement for audiences.   

Darcy Antonellis, head of Amdocs Media and CEO of Vubiquity

Let's start with the background of how AI first got applied to programming and how it has evolved. 

AI technology was originally introduced in the programming industry to enhance the visuals effects in films. Predictive modeling was done on a pixel-by-pixel basis to enrich imagery. Through this analysis, the technology determined what information was missing from a pixel, image, or frame. 

Visual enhancement is still a popular use case today, but the applications of AI have greatly expanded. It now supports projects in a variety of departments, including creative, casting, post-production and marketing. 

AI is streamlining processes and providing new insights that make content creation faster and more successful. Some of the most impactful uses of AI are in the deployment and marketing of movie and television content, where distribution methods have revolutionized the industry.

Which channels and devices are mostly used now for the consumption of content? How does that compare to 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago?

Even though mobile devices changed consumption, many would agree that the television still plays an important, ubiquitous role. Some of the preferred applications continue to be in live sports and premium experiences, both of which are tied to moments in time and encourage group viewing. 

Today’s influx of new streaming options might be convenient and practical, but consumers don’t want fractured or disjointed viewing experiences across various applications. According to research from Vanson Bourne, over two-thirds of US consumers surveyed (69%) would be willing to pay a premium for a single, all-inclusive bundle of content that includes everything they want.

With more over-the-top (OTT) providers creating and licensing premium content, there will be an increased demand for a convergence in the viewing experience. Regardless of where the premium content lives, consumers want simple access that suits their lifestyle. 

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 Certainly, more content is now available, but is the demand up to the supply?

 There is undoubtedly more content today than ever before, which is increasing traffic online and creating an essential component in today’s digital society. Cisco claims that video will account for 82% of internet traffic by 2022. 

Even with the increase in content across platforms, consumer demand has steadily continued to rise. Expectations have evolved, and consumers now look for content that is customized and contextual. Viewers won’t settle for content just because it is available. 

Over the next decade, I believe there will be an interesting shift in the economics around production and audience estimates. Hollywood is realizing the value in delivering personalized content and rising to meet that demand.

Is part of the role of AI to create that demand, or is it only to precisely deliver the right content to the right people?

The role of AI in content creation is far-reaching. By using AI to create, produce, and deliver the right content to the right people, Hollywood can estimate interest and demand for more targeted content moving forward. 

On the production side, AI will have a fascinating role in the next three, five and ten years, changing the way producers and directors approach production realization. 

AI will never completely overtake the fundamentals of creativity, but it will serve to help bolster and target that creativity in the most impactful way. For example, it shouldn’t change how a director ideates a concept for a film, but it can support and justify how they cast, produce, and edit a film for certain markets. 

The type of control that AI enables is particularly powerful in the visual aspects, like color palettes. Now that we have displays that can render and emulate what the human eye can see, producers and directors can more fully leverage the color spectrum. With the help of AI, creators can understand and develop color palettes that are not only appealing but tailored to context and situation. 

Similar types of AI recommendations are being used to get the right content in front of the right people, even after production has wrapped. With contextual and addressable advertising driven by AI insights, consumers will have a better experience across all channels.

How does timing play a role in this, and does the turnaround for new content have to be faster today than it was in the past?

In today’s digital world, providers must have the infrastructure and workflows in place to support global day-and-date distribution. Licensing and availability rights are changing in such a way that consumers do expect that content will be available immediately – regardless of location or language. 

The challenge is getting a piece of content that is culturally acceptable, meeting standards and censorship practices of certain markets, and that is localized in a robust and high-quality manner. Equally important is to ensure that the content is relevant to the individual, meaning that providers are balancing several sets of expectations. 

Which emerging technologies are playing key roles in today's consumption of content? 

In addition to AI, emerging technologies like AR and VR will continue to grow in relevance and change how consumers interact with content.

One example is in-app purchasing where consumers do not need to leave the app to buy the product they see. When coupled with AR alone, this buying trend will naturally create a stimulating environment for advertisers who want to make the most of each customer engagement.

These chances for engagement are dramatically increased when you add extreme personalization supported by AI technology. 

Other new technologies that are gaining dominance are natural language processing and image recognition. They not only play a significant role today but moving forward they will support a better consumption experience.  

Does AI and automation result in more monetization opportunities for the content? How does it work?

Yes. With automation, any time content can be made available more broadly and faster, with fewer manual processes, there’s a natural uplift in sales.

AI helps areas like monetization ubiquity, allowing the creation of on-demand engagement opportunities using diverse business models. For example, transactional, free, subscription, or ad-supported.

AI can also generate insights on how to best sell to an individual. Are they in the market for a new car, or moving? Do they like comedies or dramas more? 

It connects content to the consumer’s life events, as well as the individual’s moods. The key is taking all the data and identifying the given moment where consumers are most likely to engage.