One day, robots will help you create your March Madness brackets. The Associated Press said Wednesday that it will work with the NCAA and Automated Insights to create automated recaps of NCAA games. Division I baseball games will be first, followed by recaps of Division I women’s basketball, Division II and III football, and Division II and III men’s basketball over the course of the the next 20 months.
“We are thrilled to advance data-driven journalism with such a forward-looking organization,” Automated Insights CEO Robbie Allen said in a statement.
Though it sounds like science fiction, the technology at the heart of these game recaps, called Wordsmith, is already in wide use. Automated Insights said Wordsmith generated more than 1 billion articles in 2014 for a number of large companies, including the Associated Press, Yahoo and Comcast. In addition to its sports writing capabilities, Wordsmith has also been used to write quarterly earnings reports for Zacks, an investment research firm.
The deal, which comes just weeks before Americans everywhere begin doing research to create their March Madness brackets, creates a situation where Automated Insights’ technology will have a virtual monopoly on college game recaps. Almost every single one of the largest sports websites in the United States, including ESPN, Yahoo, CBS Sports, Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated, licenses college basketball game recaps from the Associated Press.
The AP framed Wednesday's announcement as an opportunity for its sports writers to report different kinds of stories in more depth.
“This new partnership will allow AP to cover more college sports of interest to our members and their audiences,” Barry Bedlan, AP’s deputy director of sports products, said in a statement. “This will mean thousands of more stories on the AP wire, which will remain unmatched in the industry. Every college sports town will have some level of coverage.”
Sports fans should expect more of the written content they consume to be generated by Automated Insights’ technology. In February, the company was acquired jointly by Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm, and the sports statistics authority STATS LLC. STATS, which owns the movement-tracking software technology SportVU, also operates the Sports Network, which syndicates its recaps to several large outlets, including USA Today.
[Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Automated Insights will begin producing college basketball game recaps in advance of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.]