NBA Shows Off ‘NB-AI’ Generative AI Tool to Personalize Basketball Game Viewing

The NBA showcased a new generative AI feature called NB-AI at its annual All-Star tech summit on Friday, aimed at enhancing and personalizing the live game experience for fans. Commissioner Adam Silver and rookie San Antonio Spurs player Victor Wembanyama previewed examples of NB-AI, including using AI to make game highlights resemble a film from the “Into the Spider-verse” series of Spider-man movies, as seen above.


The details for NB-AI are still fuzzy, but the Silver highlighted how it could make each viewer’s experience unique to them, with tailored highlights based on favorite teams and players, stats overlaying the game, and even personalized commentary. The film-stylee approach in the demonstration comes from the NBA app. Users will be able to issue a voice command to activate “movie mode” and see the live NBA game stylistically match certain films.

“Today, AI is creating a similar excitement to what we saw around the early days of the internet,” Silver said in the presentation. “Intuitively, most of us have a sense that artificial intelligence is going to change our lives. The question is ‘How?’”

This isn’t the NBA’s first experiment with AI and digital technology, including producing real-time highlights, assisting referees, and translating broadcasts. Perhaps the best comparison is when the NBA previewed an AI-powered basketball coach set in the metaverse two years ago. Back then, Silver unveiled “Coach Nat” (NBA Augmented Telepresence) and its computer-generated basketball moves coupled to what sounded like Shaquille O’Neal. Coach Nat was part of part of the NBA’s plans for the metaverse, which was as buzzy then as generative AI is now. How much that has continued isn’t clear from a perusal of recent NBA announcements.

The NBA is hoping advanced generative AI like NB-AI can provide fans a viewing experience as unique as the on-court product itself. If successful, the NBA’s personalized AI-infused broadcasts could set a new standard across sports media. This glimpse of the future tantalizes, but the full capabilities remain to be unveiled. Still, the demo of NB-AI at least impressed one player.

“It’s incredible,” Wembanyama said after watching the video. “Only the future will say what it will look like.”

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