On Global Accessibility Awareness Day, ESPN Front Row speaks with Dave Johnson (Sr. Vice President, Technical Services, in Disney Entertainment & ESPN Technology) about technological innovation that is enabling more accessible fan experiences with live sports: Real-time Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) captioning.
With the explosion in volume of live sports, news, and entertainment now available on our streaming platforms, delivering captioning for it all became impossible using only our legacy human captioning solutions. Disney and ESPN technologists, working in partnership with programming and business teams at ESPN and ABC, developed and implemented an innovative, scalable, and cost-effective way to bring highly accurate, real-time speech-to-text captioning to live programming. The result is a dramatically increased scale of live captioned content.
Led by software and AI development, this automated captioning technology and implementation was first used on ESPN+ live sports content, then extended to other parts of Disney (such as ABC News), and will continue to roll out across ESPN networks and other streaming platforms and networks across The Walt Disney Company within the next few years enabling more capabilities.
This work reflects ESPN and Disney’s commitment to enhancing accessibility and showcases their use of innovative technology to constantly improve the fan experience.
Eri Estrada contributed to this post
“This is a fantastic example of cross-company collaboration that leverages technology to create a better, more accessible viewing experience for more fans. Through work with partners and by smartly using the capability of AI, we’re able to enhance exponentially more of our world-class content with captions – and do it with incredible accuracy. And it will continue to improve over the course of its development and implementation.
This approach has eliminated the 5-second trailing delay, delivering captioning in near-real-time. Plus, it reduces or eliminates paraphrasing often used in traditional captioning – communicating what is said, when it’s said, the way it is said. Viewers receive the same message, whether they hear or read it, marking an important accessibility advancement in live programming.”
— Dave Johnson
(ASR AI-Captioning provides live captioning within 1% accuracy of human captioning.)