Peacock subscribers will soon have custom Olympic updates delivered by an AI version of an iconic broadcaster

 NBC 2024 Paris Olympic Games on Peacock.
Credit: Future/Jacob Krol

The 2024 Paris Olympic Games are fast approaching, and in the United States, one of the ways to stream every sporting event – whether it’s primetime or not – will be on NBC’s Peacock. To deliver a more personalized experience for all subscribers, Peacock is pairing famed broadcaster Al Michaels with the power of AI (as in Artificial Intelligence).

Each day of the games, you’ll get a personalized highlight reel as part of a new feature called ‘Your Daily Olympic Recap on Peacock’ showing moments from three sports you selected. A portion of it will be narrated and highlighted by Michaels – well, by the generative AI version of him.

And fear not – NBC got permission from Michaels to use his voice, who said, “I was skeptical but obviously curious” when approached but “saw a demonstration detailing what they had in mind” and was in. That’s a better approach than ChatGPT did with Her.

Peacock 'Your Daily Olympic Recap'
Peacock 'Your Daily Olympic Recap'

Essentially, once you go through an onboarding process, Peacock’s backend technology works to create a text script using the subtitles and metadata from the sporting clips. It then puts that in Michaels’s style and is proofread.

The text script then goes through a voice AI, which has a foundational model built from Michaels' past appearances on NBC – interestingly enough, he did not record anything custom for this – and a multi-step process that enhances the speech to get the proper pronunciations, annotations, and even breathing style or overall speed.

Lastly, and it’s an important step, there is a real-life human that checks to ensure it sounds natural and there aren’t glaring inaccuracies. The videos will have a disclaimer of sorts, displaying ‘Generated with AI’ in the top left corner each day.

The result is that you’ll get a push notification in the Peacock app on iOS or the web, telling you the recap is ready and tossing you in. It’ll kick off with about a 30-second introduction, followed by clips from the sport, then another narration from Al, more clips, another one paired with clips, and then a sign-off highlighting the major events of the day. You can also jump around to go back to the narrated part or jump through the various clips.

This sounds real

When you first sign up, which is free for all Peacock subscribers, you’ll write your name, pick your top three sports, and then the types of highlights that are most interesting to you. It’s pretty simple, and I can confirm from a demo that it sounded like Michaels. The clips were natural-sounding, with words you’d expect to hear, and they had an overall good rhythm to them.

The first daily recap will be the same for all users on July 27, 2024, as it will show moments from the opening ceremonies, but if you sign up, you’ll see custom ones designed to your specific requests starting on July 28, 2024.

Peacock said that its various team members, including engineers and data scientists, integrate, optimize, and validate the LLM (large-language-model) and voice synthesis technology – essentially taking Michaels's voice and creating a model. It will be very interesting to see how it performs daily and the responses from all sorts of users.

It does seem like a unique way to provide easy access to your favorite moments from the games, regardless if you’re a big fan of the most popular sport that’ll be shown in prime time or one that is usually harder to track down. Potentially, even more importantly, it’s a way to get more folks excited about the games.

As we approach the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, you’ll begin to see the option to sign up for ‘Your Daily Olympic Recap on Peacock.’ The experience will be available via the iOS app and on the web.

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