The Durham Bulls will soon have robotic software writing stories about them created by a company whose offices overlook the Bulls’ home stadium. And every Minor League Baseball team will soon get coverage where ever they play.
Using Wordsmith robotic software, the Associated Press and Minor League Baseball are teaming up with Durham-based Automated Insights for game stories. The news service says it now can provide what it calls “automated game stories” about all games played by 142 teams across 13 different leagues.
The agreement builds on the AP’s use of Automated Insights for business news coverage of earnings reports over the past two years. AP also at one time was an investor in the company Allen started.
And this deal could be a precursor to others.
“It definitely won’t hurt!” Allen told WRAL TechWire when asked what the deal means to AI as a company and whether it will further enhance its credibility. “Not only to have a successful first project with AP, but for them to take on a second large implementation definitely adds further credibility to automating content.”
Other sports are interested, too.
“Absolutely,” Allen said when asked about whether Wordsmith might work its way into other leagues. “We are talking to most of the major pro leagues and some semi-pro and amateur leagues.”
Financial terms of the baseball agreement were not disclosed.
“We can’t share details of the contract,” Allen told WRAL TechWire but added: “We are certainly being paid for our part.”
Automated Insights is hardly new to sports, having provided football-related stories for Yahoo! in the past. In fact, Allen’s original focus was on sports when he launched StatSheet (which evolved into AI) in 2007 while working at Cisco.
Vista Equity acquired Automated Insights in Feb. 2015 but AI remained in Durham and continues to grow. The latest updates on Wordsmith and AI’s helped convince AP and Minor League Baseball to launch the new service.
“AP’s baseball editors and reporters worked closely with Automated Insights to configure the Wordsmith platform to conform with the news judgment and standards for AP’s baseball coverage,” the AP said.
Stories also will include statistics provided by MLBAM, the statistician for the minor leagues.
“We’ve been exploring how to use automation to enrich the AP Sports report,” said Barry Bedlan, deputy director of sports products for the AP, in the announcement. “MLBAM data is among the best and a perfect fit for this, while being able to generate more content of local interest.”
Allen said in the announcement that interest in Wordsmith reflects growing interest in “automated journalism.”
“The Associated Press proved the value of automated journalism with earnings stories, and their expansion into Minor League Baseball shows the demand for expanded news coverage from media outlets across the country,” Allen said in the announcement. “We’re pleased that Wordsmith continues to be a fundamental part of the AP’s news operation, enabling the organization to cover types of news that simply couldn’t be done without automation.”
Thanks to WRALTechWire’s Rick Smith for this capcom story & for these capcom graphics.