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Bedour Ibrahim

The statbot will trawl race archives and parse torrents of real-time racing data

Formula 1 and Amazon Aim for AI-Powered ‘Personalized’ Race Viewing

Sunday 23/June/2024 - 05:08 PM
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At the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday، Formula 1 plans to debut a new artificial intelligence “Statbot” with Inc.، whose executives described plans for AI-powered personalized broadcasts to keep viewers hooked.

The statbot will trawl race archives and parse torrents of real-time racing data to feed context and trivia to broadcast presenters live during the Barcelona race، using technology from the Seattle-based company’s Amazon Web Services cloud computing division، said Neil Ralph، the tech company’s lead on technical collaboration with F1.

It’s a sign of how AI is creeping into media، and of how F1’s owner، Liberty Media Corp.، is hunting for ways to keep fans glued to screens. 

Steered by billionaire cable magnate John C. Malone، Liberty bought F1 from CVC Capital Partners in a deal announced in 2016. Since then، it has focused on increasing the sport’s global appeal، growing its audience with marketing gambits like behind-the-scenes Netflix Inc. documentary series Formula 1: Drive to Survive.

Protagonists hidden behind helmets

But in a sport heavy on engineering، whose human protagonists are hidden behind helmets، executives want ways to jazz up the live race broadcast too. The companies say they’re also using AI to offer in-race predictions on matters like pit-stop timing or when a driver might try to overtake a rival، based on real-time details such as car performance and tire degradation.

“With this data and the intimacy with the fan، you can contemplate hyper-personalized experiences،” AWS Canada Managing Director Eric Gales said in an interview at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal earlier in June. 

Ralph said: “That’s where we want it to go، so you as a fan can choose how much data to see and what stories you want to be told.”

Vying against other sports، streaming shows، TikTok and video games، the battle for attention has never been so intense. While F1 has broadened its reach in the US with the Netflix series and new races such as the Las Vegas Grand Prix، the sport is still sometimes panned as too predictable. Last year، F1’s top driver، Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen، won 19 of the 22 races; this year he has won six of nine. 

“We can’t just rely on giving them a passive experience،” said Dean Locke، F1’s director of broadcast and media، speaking to reporters in Montreal remotely from the group’s media and technology center in Biggin Hill، UK.