NBC to use AI version of announcer Al Michaels’ voice for Olympics recaps

Damond Isiaka
3 Min Read


CNN
 — 

NBC is bringing a version of famed sportscaster Al Michaels back to the Olympics this summer with an unlikely twist: His voice will be powered by artificial intelligence.

NBC announced on Wednesday it will use AI software to recreate Michaels’ voice to deliver daily recaps of the Summer Games for subscribers of its Peacock streaming platform, a milestone for the use of AI by a major media company.

The use of an AI voice for the Olympics comes as the technology has grown by leaps and bounds, particularly in its ability to create images, sound and text. That, in turn, has raised questions in creative industries, such as journalism, about how artificial intelligence can – or even should – be used.

A new tool, called “Your Daily Olympic Recap on Peacock,” will enable 10-minute highlights packages, which can include events updates, athlete back stories and other related content personalized by subscriber preferences.

The company said the highlights could be packaged in about 7 million different ways, pulled from 5,000 hours of live coverage in Paris, effectively making AI (the artificial intelligence, not the man) a significantly more efficient way to deliver personalized recaps.

“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.’”

A NBC spokesperson told CNN Michaels is being compensated for his involvement.

Michaels, a long-time broadcaster, is currently the play-by-play sportscaster for Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime. He’s also known for his work on previous Olympics Games broadcasts for both NBC and ABC and for calling the Miracle on Ice Game at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.

NBC said the AI system was trained using prior NBC broadcast audio from Michaels.

The company said a team of NBC Sports editors will review all of the content, including audio and clips, to make sure everything is factually accurate and names are pronounced correctly.

The highlights tool will be available on Peacock via web browsers and iOS and iPadOS apps starting July 27.

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