The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Microsoft on Thursday announced a new multiyear alliance, in which the league will adopt cloud computing and artificial intelligence services to personalize games and experiences for its legions of fans.
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 new, direct-to-consumer platform on Microsoft Azure that will use machine learning and artificial intelligence to deliver personalized game broadcasts and other content offerings as well as integrate the NBA’s various products and services from across its business. The platform will change the way 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 extensive historical video archive will be surfaced to fans through machine learning, cognitive search and data analytics solutions. This will create a more personalized fan experience that tailors the content to the preferences of the fan, rewards participation, and provides more insights and analysis than ever. Additionally, this platform will enable the NBA to uncover 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.
The selection of Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, is a blow to rivals Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google in the race for cloud-computing market share. Amazon Web Services leads the market for internet-based computing and storage, with Microsoft Azure placing No. 2. Microsoft also has a partnership with the National Football League.