In recent years, we’ve become addicted to on-demand media, entertainment and information services. Rolling news, something relatively new 20 years ago, is now the norm. Binge-watching online TV shows has become part of our lives. As demand for this content grows, technology must find new ways to deliver these services and provide highly-customised and engaging experiences.
Step forward Artificial Intelligence (AI) which is set to have a massive impact in the digital era. It’s difficult to pick up a paper today without reading about the dramatic influence AI is having on a wide range of industries, including media, entertainment and information services.
Consider the BBC’s latest innovation with its News Lab operation launching Juicer, a news aggregation pipeline that ingests articles and extracts the most salient content for the user to enjoy. AI is also being used by media companies to crunch the data behind viewing and consumption patterns that enables AI to provide more tailored content, but also for media businesses to become more effective – and more profitable – in delivering it.
Upgrading to Premium: AI in Action
TCS recently conducted a major study into AI across 13 sectors. In the media, entertainment and information industries, 89% of business leaders said they were already using this technology. Fast forward a few years, and almost every executive responding believed they will have incorporated AI into their operations at some point by 2020. It’s clear that AI is in demand for the on-demanders.
The sector is, by its very nature, one built around technology. After all, it was the entertainment industry that really helped TV become a mainstream phenomenon, and the media sector that adopted desktop publishing in the 80s to revolutionise how a newspaper was produced. Fast forward to the present day and these innovations have taken a life of their own with digital publishing’s exponential growth and on-demand TV transforming viewing habits.
Another example is the US global news service, Associated Press (AP), which began using AI to write corporate earnings stories on public companies. There are more than 4,000 public companies in the US, so AP’s staff couldn’t possibly write earnings reports on all of those companies every three months. In fact, they only covered the earnings announcements of about 300. Yet by January 2015, AP produced more than 3,700 corporate earnings stories per quarter, largely because AI was doing the writing of the more mundane corporate earnings reports.
AI helps the company do work that it couldn’t afford to do in the past, leaving its reporters to focus their energies on more interesting and investigative journalism to explore angles on bigger financial stories. AI is the e-editor here, freeing up journalists to do the higher value work.
Shifting the focus away from media AI-use, the entertainment market is also seeing benefits associated with this developing technology.
Online music company Spotify – serving over 60 million subscribers as of July 2017 – has struck a chord when it comes to using AI for audience satisfaction. Artificial Intelligence technology fuels recommendations for its listeners by mining sources of information, such as blogs, for references to musicians, albums or songs and then makes recommendations based on those insights.
The Swedish company says it’s using deep learning technology to determine what acoustic elements of songs make them interesting to listeners – which drives customer engagement, satisfaction and recommendations.
Another big hitter in the entertainment world is Netflix, the online movie giant, with more than 75 million members in more than 190 countries. The company is using AI technology to figure out how to capture film images for use on smaller screens such as mobile devices. In a company blog post, the firm describes how it’s using algorithms to determine which part of a movie image to focus on for smaller viewing formats, driving use on devices alongside the traditional 60 inch plasma screen.
Market Watch: Is AI Delivering?
Investment in AI isn’t, however, just about e-journalists, music recommendations or mobile TV content. There is an even stronger business case the industry can’t afford to ignore and that’s the return on investment (ROI) that can be derived from AI innovation.
In fact, based on the TCS research, media, entertainment and information services executives found that investment in AI helped them to reduce production costs by 10%. Additionally, executives reported an 11% average revenue increase in the area of their AI initiatives.
Compared to other sectors, media, entertainment and information services staff are spending less in total. Yet investment, as detailed above, is leading to revenue gains. In 2015, the average company spent $12 million on AI initiatives. This increased to $22 million in 2016 and is expected to double to $47 million by 2020.
Aside from cost savings, the industry must also grapple with the impact on jobs. This isn’t unique to media, entertainment and information service industries, of course, and is a common perception linked to AI whenever the topic comes up.
The TCS study, found that AI investment will in fact lead to job creation. Companies will have to add new jobs in order to develop and manage these developing cognitive technologies, finding ways for staff to work alongside AI and enhance their ability to do their jobs.
Looking ahead, staff said they were confident that AI will increase the average number of jobs per function, estimating a 12% increase by 2020, reaching 16% by 2025. TCS research suggests that companies will evenly split the new jobs between current employees and new hires, particularly given that AI will create many new roles that don’t yet exist today.
Season Finale: Will AI get Recommissioned?
Even though the world of media, entertainment and information services has spent cautiously on AI to date, this technology is revolutionising what has always been a fast-moving sector. Think newspaper stories that write themselves and streaming sites that act as your personal music shopper. But while there has been dramatic progress in recent years, there is also some unexpected buffering ahead that might interrupt the path of AI evolution.
Effectively developing AI systems that make good, reliable, and safe decisions remain a challenge, according to industry executives TCS canvassed for its study. Additionally, developing an AI system that continually learns, in order to make better business decisions, is also on the minds of media moguls.
Implementing any new technology will always have teething problems, but AI is saving and making this industry money, year-upon-year, so it can’t be ignored. More importantly, AI is also radically improving the end user’s experience. In a world in which digital customer expectations are shifting, if innovation in AI has the potential to deliver and exceed consumer expectations, then it is here to stay.