Cricket fans will tell you how difficult it is to get a “wicket” (when a batter is “out”) in the sport, and for an AI to predict when it happens is nothing short of remarkable. With this AI, Fox Sports Australia is able to forecast with a high degree of certainty when a wicket is likely to happen, and sports commentators can boldly advise viewers to hold off “answering nature’s call” and not miss a predicted wicket.

Last summer, Fox Sports Australia acquired airing rights for cricket in Australia. FSA acquired the rights to air cricket, as it’s in season when many of FSA’s featured sports—Australian Football, rugby and motorsports, are all in the off-season. The challenge was to come up with a marketing strategy to attract cricket’s large fanbase (about 1.8 million fans) and give them a compelling reason to pay for what they always used to watch for free.

To do this, Fox Sports Australia Head of Marketing Chris Pocock says the company had to “build an experience like never before to really build that fan engagement and make it worth paying for – and that is what we promised.” For FSA and Pocock, that experience was to come from “Monty”, an AI bot based on Google tech. Monty was created in a partnership with media-buying and creative agency Mindshare. It functioned by creating a machine-learning model based on structured data on 83 unique variables of each ball pitched. Opta Sports provided the needed data, which was then passed to Google’s AutoML Tables, which built the machine learning models to predict the likelihood of a wicket.

Monty uses these models to recognize patterns in each player’s performance, based on past form and current conditions in live games. After deploying Monty at the 2018 Boxing Day Cricket test match, it was revealed that the AI predicted wickets with an astonishing 87% accuracy rate. By using Monty, Fox Sports garnered a 150% improvement in marketing ROI, brand recall doubled, and app engagement with the Fox Cricket app increased by 140%.

With Monty’s success in Australian cricket, can Monty or other AI like it be applied to other sports or will Monty be unique to Australian cricket?

Find out what Fox Sports Australia has in store for Monty, and get to know more details about this story here:

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