NBCUniversal Believes In A.I. Miracles, Sets Tech-Assisted Al Michaels As Virtual Host Of Daily Paris Olympics Recaps On Peacock

Al Michaels, whose call of the U.S. hockey team’s Olympics upset over the USSR is a sports broadcasting milestone, will deliver AI-enhanced daily recaps of the Paris Games this summer on Peacock.

NBCUniversal’s flagship streaming service, which is carrying full coverage of all Olympic events, will present “Your Daily Olympic Recap on Peacock.” The company describes the mobile-focused feature as “a first-of-its-kind, personalized experience complementing NBCUniversal’s comprehensive coverage of the Olympic Games Paris 2024.”

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The feature stems from a collaboration with Michaels, the company said, using generative A.I. and A.I. voice synthesis technology. The recap will provide fans with their own customized playlist featuring highlights of the events most relevant to them from the previous day. Each compilation will feature clips from NBCU Paris coverage. A “high-quality A.I. recreation of Michaels’ voice” will provide voiceovers, with the virtual host trained on past appearances by Michaels on NBC.

The initiative was unveiled at the end of a nearly two-hour showcase at 30 Rock of the full suite of offerings around the Olympics. Paris will mark the 18th edition of the Olympics broadcast by NBCU, dating back to the radio days of the 1930s.

Kicking off the event, Comcast President and NBCU boss Mike Cavanagh called the Olympics a “touchpoint of what makes our company great.” He added, “We like to raise the bar” and “bring it all together, to try to take this every time to the next level.”

Innovation is an understandable goal, but the realm of AI is fraught for entertainment companies. Studios and streamers reached agreements with the WGA and SAG/AFTRA last year after months of labor upheaval, with AI at the center of the guilds’ concerns. In digital media, companies have taken sides, with some filing suit against OpenAI and other AI firms, and others joining forces and trying to benefit from the steep adoption curve.

“When I was approached about this, I was skeptical but obviously curious,” Michaels said in a press release. “Then I saw a demonstration detailing what they had in mind. I said, ‘I’m in.’”

Michaels, whose signature call remains the 1980 Lake Placid one, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” parted ways with NBCU in 2022 after nearly two decades as its lead voice.

What is most striking about the feature, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said at the presentation, “is how much it sounds like Al Michaels.” He added that “the world could use a good Olympics right now,” extolling the “spirit of the Games.”

The daily recap is tailored to mobile viewers and will be available to Peacock subscribers starting July 27 on all supported web browsers as well as on the Peacock app on select mobile and tablet devices.

“Peacock continues to introduce unique customer-first features that strengthen our unmatched leadership in live streaming,” said Kelly Campbell, President of Peacock and Direct-to-Consumer, NBCUniversal. “With these recaps alongside interactive elements like Peacock Live Actions and Discovery Multiview, we’re bringing the best of sports together with the best of technology to deliver fans a personalized Olympics experience in a way that’s never been possible before.”

Nearly 7 million personalized variants of “Your Daily Olympic Recap on Peacock” could be streamed across the U.S. during the Games – all generated by pulling from NBCUniversal’s 5,000 hours of live coverage from Paris, where up to 40 Olympics events will be happening concurrently each day.

The technology will pull from hundreds of NBC Sports-produced clips each day to generate a playlist of around 10 minutes highlighting the most relevant moments from the prior day for each user, along with a look ahead to what fans can expect to see in the NBC Primetime show. The recaps narrated by the A.I. re-creation of Michaels’ voice will give an overview of each selected highlight. A team of NBCU editors will review all content, including audio and clips, for quality assurance and accuracy before recaps are made available to users.

“Your Daily Olympic Recap on Peacock” will be featured in Peacock’s homepage and Olympics hub and available at the individual profile level, so up to six users on one account can receive their own recaps. Users can opt into receiving push and in-app notifications to remind them to watch their recaps.

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