Microsoft and the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Thursday announced a multi-year alliance for an undisclosed sum with an aim to redefine and personalise the fan experience. As part of this collaboration, Microsoft will become the official Artificial Intelligence Partner and an Official Cloud and Laptop Partner for the NBA, Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), NBA G League, and USA Basketball beginning with the 2020-21 NBA season.
Microsoft and NBA Digital — co-managed by the NBA and Turner Sports — will create a direct-to-consumer platform on Microsoft Azure that will use machine learning and artificial intelligence to deliver next-generation, personalized game broadcasts and other content offerings as well as integrate the NBA's various products and services from across its business.
"We are thrilled to serve as the official AI partner of the NBA. Together, we'll bring fans closer to the game and players they love with new personalized experiences powered by Microsoft Azure," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
The platform will reimagine how fans engage with the NBA from their devices by customizing and localizing experiences for the NBA's global fanbase, which includes the 1.8 billion social media followers across all league, team and player accounts.
Beyond delivering live and on-demand game broadcasts through Microsoft Azure, the NBA's vast array of data sources and the extensive historical video archive will be surfaced to fans through state-of-the-art machine learning, cognitive search and advanced data analytics solutions, Microsoft said in a statement.
Additionally, this platform will enable the NBA to uncover unique insights and add new dimensions to the game for fans, coaches and broadcasters. The companies will also explore additional ways technology can be used to enhance the NBA's business and game operations.
As part of the partnership, Microsoft will become the entitlement partner of the NBA Draft Combine beginning next season and an associate partner of future marquee events, including NBA All-Star, MGM Resorts NBA Summer League and WNBA All-Star.
"This partnership with Microsoft will help us redefine the way our fans experience NBA basketball," said Adam Silver, NBA commissioner.
"Our goal, working with Microsoft, is to create customized content that allows fans — whether they are in an NBA arena or watching from anywhere around the world — to immerse themselves in all aspects of the game and engage directly with our teams and players," Silver added.
The NBA has established a major international presence with games and programming in 215 countries and territories in 47 languages, and merchandise for sale in more than 100,000 stores in 100 countries on six continents.