PAID POST FOR COMCAST LIFT LABS

This personalized fan experience is changing how people watch sports

This is one in a series of stories that highlights each company in the 2019 class of the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars. Visit LIFT Labs to learn more about this world-class program for connectivity, media and entertainment startups, and get information on applications for the next class.

We now live in the age of personalization. Whether it's their curated news feeds on social media, "made-for-you" movie recommendations from streaming services or tailored product offerings from online retailers, we're living in a new era where customization is the norm.

Yet sports broadcasts still lag behind. It feels like every fan watches the same feed, hears the same commentators, sees the same statistics and is served the same advertisements.

With an increasing number of people watching sports on mobile devices, the top-down approach is even more pronounced. People are used to interactive experiences on mobile — and passive sports broadcasts are struggling to hold a fan's attention. Viewers constantly have to click away from a broadcast to look up statistics or comment on social media.

Is it possible to broadcast sports on mobile and pair them with the interactivity and personalization that today's fans crave?

Welcome to the world of Edisn.ai. Built by Ashok Karanth and Akshay Chandrasekhar, Edisn.ai is an artificial intelligence platform that uses real-time player recognition technology to deliver interactive content to fans while they watch live sports.

Let's say you're watching a professional soccer game and Edisn.ai recognizes star Lionel Messi. With Edisn.ai, a viewer can use the menu on the side of the screen to access Messi's in-game statistics, track his fantasy points, share content on social or buy his jersey — and they'll never have to stop watching the game.

Karanth and Chandrasekhar launched Edisn.ai in Bangalore, India with an ambitious goal: Revolutionize how people around the world watch sports. It's a tall task, but the Edisn.ai team has an incredible support system.

This summer, Karanth (along with newly hired COO Shobit Mathur) traveled to Philadelphia to take part in the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars. Meanwhile, Chandrasekhar has since moved to Philadelphia to implement a few projects with Comcast and other clients.

During the program, they made valuable connections in the sports and entertainment industries and piloted their technology with Comcast's Watch with the Xfinity X1 platform, NBC10, Telemundo62 and Universal Pictures.

"The mentors have helped us realize that the tech we've built actually has wide applications beyond sports," Karanth said. "It can be used for media, entertainment and news content — all kinds of video consumption. That will potentially open up the horizon for us on what markets we can pursue."

For now, Edisn.ai is laser-focused on sports — and broadcasters stand to see serious value by partnering with the platform.

Patience Makes Perfect

Karanth knows that building a successful business takes time.

"My philosophy on entrepreneurship is delayed gratification," Karanth said. "If you want to build a product that can change the world, the expectation should be that the gratification will not come on day one. You have to be able to stay the course, develop your idea, put it out in the world and convince everybody else that it's a great idea. This is not going to happen overnight. If you're in it for the quick buck, entrepreneurship is not the space for you."

Karanth is no stranger to entrepreneurship. In 2008, he launched his own sponsorship agency in India, connecting brands with teams and players. He also has run a sports and hospitality business that took people to sporting events around the world.

"Being an entrepreneur is some sort of superpower," he said. "You have this idea in your head. Only you know it exists. And when you get consumers to think your idea is cool and start to use it, it's mind-blowing."

So far, Edisn.ai is seeing some impressive traction. The company has done pilot programs with leading sports broadcasters as well as teams and leagues in Madrid, India and the United States — but that's just the beginning. Edisn.ai has big plans to fundamentally revolutionize the way people watch and interact with video.

"We hope to be the de facto way fans consume sports and other video content," Karanth said.

Disclosure: Comcast and NBCUniversal are parent of CNBC.

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