Globo invests $3.3m in automated production company Pixellot

Brazilian media conglomerate Grupo Global has made a $3.3m (€3m) investment in automated sports video production company Pixellot that could lead to new broadcast opportunities for niche sports across Globo’s distribution platforms in Brazil.

Through the investment, Grupo Globo will acquire an equity stake in Pixellot. The Israel-based firm counts Shamrock Capital, Firstime, Baidu and Asahi Broadcasting Company among its existing investors.

Los Angeles-based Shamrock Capital led a $30m investment round in Pixellot in September 2018. This brought the sum raised by Pixellot to over $40m since its launch in 2013.

Pixellot’s artificial intelligence technology automates media production workflows, cutting the cost of sports broadcasting. The company uses unmanned multi-camera devices, cloud-based machine learning and auto-production algorithms to track the flow of play, update scoring graphics, identify highlights and insert adverts without the need for human intervention.

Grupo Globo currently holds media rights in Brazil to the likes of the Fifa World Cup, Olympic Games, Brasileirão Série A, Volleyball Superliga, and Conmebol tournaments. Robert Marinho Neto, director of the media firm’s sports division, remarked today that the investment in Pixellot would help expand the range of Globo’s coverage.

Along with its flagship free-to-air channel Globo, the group’s assets also include pay-TV service Globosat, plus the Globo.com and Globoesporte.com portals.

A statement from Globo and Pixellot said: “The investment in Pixellot and installation of its AI-Automated production systems at stadiums, facilities and sporting complexes across the country promises to open up several new content opportunities of sports leagues and competitions that were previously unavailable to the Brazilian public.”

Neto said: “After reviewing many technologies in the media market, we concluded that Pixellot has developed the only technology that can provide a solution at the scale and quality we require. It also has the widest portfolio of products that can cater to every market in our media value chain.

“Globo will be able to produce entire new verticals of sports and expand our coverage in soccer, which is the national passion. This includes professional men and women leagues and competitions, as well as semi-professional, and niche sports for the first time ever.”

Alon Werber, chief executive of Pixellot said: “The Brazilian market is filled with millions of enthusiastic sports fans in many types of sports. Grupo Globo’s vision to lead a technological revolution in sports coverage will deliver increased fan access and enable the company to monetize entire sporting verticals for the very first time, pioneering a seismic advancement of the South American sports industry.”

Pixellot technology was used to produce a low-cost live stream of the opening tee of the 2016 Ryder Cup at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in USA that was available via the official Ryder Cup website.

In September, Estonian television and radio network operator Levira also teamed up with the company to produce and live-stream coverage of Estonian and Latvian basketball competitions.