How Infront is partnering with start-ups to enhance content offering at 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship


New technology delivering fast and relevant content to fans worldwide

Copenhagen, Denmark - Innovation has always been part of Infront’s culture and way of thinking. With the opportunities presented by the rapidly changing media and business environment in sports, Infront is constantly on the lookout for new consumer solutions and growth opportunities for our partners.

Together with its long-standing partner the IIHF, Infront has transformed the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship to deliver cutting edge solutions for the benefit of ice hockey fans around the world.

So how do you take an event like the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and increase the amount of engaging content for fans to consume around the world?

That was the question the Infront team currently delivering the tournament in Denmark asked themselves in the build-up to the tournament.

Thanks to a number of initiatives that has seen Infront build strong relationships with a group of innovative start-ups over the last 12 months, three new partners were integrated into the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship media team.

Here is how Infront has utilised them to enhance fan's experience. Because at the end of the day, it is all about the fans.

Automated video content published within minutes

In previous years, Infront's production team created game highlights and the best moments from the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship manually. These videos were shared across numerous online platforms, including social media.

Whilst it is common knowledge that video content is king, it is also resource-heavy.

However, this year Infront introduced WSC Sports to the tournament. The company specialises in automatic video creation. Its AI-driven platform analyses live sports broadcasts, identifying each and every event that occurs in the game.

It then automatically creates customised videos made available for publication to destinations such as broadcasters, websites and social media platforms.

Partners can instantly generate and distribute professional quality videos on a large scale, maximising exposure and creating new monetisation opportunities. Video formats, durations and outputs are customised depending on the destination they are published on, offering flexibility to create either ultra-short form content for platforms such as Twitter, or longer highlights as required by broadcasters. 

It is the first time they have worked at an IIHF tournament, and their software is automatically creating all game highlights, top goals, top saves, daily recaps and similar in-game videos.

The result? Over 5,000 videos have already been produced using the technology.

These were shared across all IIHF social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and VK, allowing country specific content to be pushed to selected audiences.

The impact has already been bigger than expected, with 8 million views in total, including 300,000 likes, underlining fan's desire for quick and personalised content straight from the ice.

In addition, a chatbot was introduced to provide fans with the opportunity to create their own favourite team or player content through Facebook messenger. Fans can also subscribe to automatically receive these customised clips after each game. To do so, they simply send a message to the IIHF asking for e.g. "Canada highlights" and the most recent video will be shown. This is similar to Infront's work with Tokabot, which rolled out the DFB Pokal chatbot this week.

Thanks to this machine-learning technology, the production crew that would previously have focused on in-game content, focused on video content around the tournament.

"Highlights, top goals and key moments from games are now considered standard for any ice hockey tournament," said Amikam Kranz, Senior Director Winter Sports at Infront, who initiated and is driving the implementation of these innovations at Infront. "Using WSC Sports means we can free up resources to use elsewhere and bring greater value to the IIHF. This is without losing the high quality production that we always deliver at all events. It also means that fans have a wider choice of what to consume, and it increases IIHF's reach and engagement"

"WSC Sports technology saves sports organisations time and helps them produce quality content at scale" said Yitav Topaz, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at WSC Sports. "The IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship has been a great experience for us, working together with Infront to create the best ice hockey viewing experience for fans. We are already delivering value for a wide range of sports and, through Infront, we want to continue to deliver the best moments to fans in a quick, efficient, and relevant manner."

DEEP impact for graphics

Of course, all the action on the ice creates a huge amount of statistics and data to satisfy the most dedicated of fans. Points, assists, shots on goal percentages and time on ice are just four examples of the information gathered during just one game. 

How do you translate all of that useful, insightful information and package it for your average ice hockey fan?

That is where Infront's work with DEEP comes in.

DEEP is a platform that allows its users to enhance their stories with fully customisable, mobile-friendly and interactive graphics. They provide all the data and design, without the need of an editor or graphic designer.

The data provided is automatically curated, updated and dropped into ready-made templates through a user-friendly editing tool. The result is an engaging, data-rich visual content in a snap.

These visuals and videos have enhanced IIHF's online content during the World Championship. The platform has streamlined the creation of graphics for post-period and game stats, top scorers and Heroes of the Day, allowing given fans to have a deeper insight into the games.

In total 75 pieces of content have been produced, with the Hero of the Day being the most engaging posts.

"There is so much data in sport now that it can be easy to ignore the most important stories from games," said Pete Sickle, Senior Director, Content and Business Development at DEEP. "Infographic production has been around for a while, but this software makes it easy for anyone to produce and limits the margin of error when it comes to gathering that data. We have seen a clear impact on how it can enrich the content offering of the IIHF here in Denmark."

Broadcast quality without the resources

Infront has already highlighted how fans come first when discussing broadcast at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. With subsidiary HBS on board for the first time this year, the footage and angles available has once again taken a step forward from previous editions. 

In addition, Pixellot are on-site to provide footage of events that are not usually produced, such as training sessions, through its innovative technology that automatically produces and broadcasts sport events for live or delayed streaming. 

Pixellot’s technology offers the opportunity for properties and federations to deliver more games through a fully automated production solution. Using a specially designed camera, their software algorithm tracks the action on the court and creates a TV-like experience for viewers on web, smart TV or mobile.

Pixellot’s cameras automatically capture all the action on the ice in 8K without the need for a camera operator, meaning s a high number of training sessions could be captured.

This year, the footage is being offered to teams to review training sessions, acting as a testing ground for future events. Players and coaches can use the technology to focus on a single player or a single play to get an in-depth opportunity for review.

"This is the third time we have worked with Infront at an event and on every occasion it has been clear that there is real thirst for this technology," said Pixellot Vice President of Global Sales Uri Neeman. "There are so many sporting events taking place, and so many niche markets that would happily consume them. This technology means sport properties can deliver more to their fans."

Three ways to automate content creation and deliver what fans want to see quickly, efficiently and effortlessly.  At the end, it is all about the fans.