In 2018, Australian pay TV brand Foxtel invested AU$600m to secure the broadcast rights for cricket.
Cricket is considered a natural resource for Australians – in the same category as sun, sand and surf. As such, it had always been broadcast for free. Now Aussies had to pay $60 per month to watch every ball. However, Australia’s complex sport licensing laws ensured major games were still free to air on competitor broadcaster CH7.
So the challenge for Foxtel was brutally simple: get people to pay for a product they’d always enjoyed for free – even when they can still watch the major matches without paying for a subscription.
The only way to win was by changing the rules.
Foxtel invested heavily in data to train a custom machine learning model capable of predicting when wickets would fall in live games: creating Monty, the world’s first AI ‘predictive commentator’.
Monty watched every single ball in every single game, triggering dynamic creative across pre-roll video, mobile display ads and outdoor billboards when he spotted a wicket.
Fans quickly recognised him as the season’s breakout star. The model ensured they never missed a play worth paying for, and through integration into the Fox Cricket app and Google Home, they could ask for his insight at any time.
He finished the campaign with an astonishing score of 1,867 wickets across the summer.
By changing the way Aussies watch cricket, Monty delivered an 18% increase in average weekly sales and reduced CPA by 61%.
Fox Cricket became the number-one channel for share, beating full-year performance of every other channel despite only launching in September.
Once Monty was trained, we let him loose on live games, where he tracked 83 variables for every single ball during live play, overlaying his training data and what happened in the last five minutes of play, and projecting what would happen in the next five minutes.
When he spotted a wicket coming, he triggered dynamic creative across pre-roll video, mobile display ads and outdoor billboards, with a call to action to tune in to Fox Cricket and watch the wicket fall – making sure subscribers got maximum value and alerting the rest of the public to the fact that Fox (via Monty) could ensure they never missed a big play.
Through a Google integration, fans could also ask Fox Cricket for ‘Monty’s Call’ through the Google Home Assistant during live play, and an API was also integrated into the Fox Cricket app for instant predictions and enhanced visualisations, which fans could use to help with suggestions on drafting their ultimate fantasy team.
The true measure of effective innovation’s impact is whether it changes not only business outcomes but culture and consumer behaviour as well.
This project for Foxtel was an unparalleled success in this regard. It created an entirely new way to watch the national game and allowed fans to witness the best moments of every match as it happened live.
Rather than offering data for targeting or as a visualisation after the event, we used data to predict sporting events – putting the viewer ahead of the game for the first time ever.