GMA Network’s introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-generated sportscasters on Saturday opened up discussions on how AI technology will be used in media.
Maia and Marco, the Kapuso AI sportscasters, were announced as part of the digital initiative ahead of the opening of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 99 for the purpose of bringing the biggest news on NCAA Season 99 as well as updates on local and international sports featuring Filipino athletes on the social media platforms of GMA Integrated News, GMA Sports, and GMA Synergy.
The sportscasters are generated by artificial intelligence using Image Generation, Text-to-Speech AI Voice Synthesis/Generation, and Deep Learning Face Animation Technology.
The announcement of the initiative sparked conversations on the use of AI technology, with many different opinions being aired on social media.
Many expressed concerns about the technology, particularly with AI’s ability to engage with viewers, but also with its potential to replace people in the workforce.
Others, however, have praised the initiative as a step towards the future and a starting point for discussions on how technological advancements like AI will impact industries like the media.
The use of AI technology in news presenting has seen a rise in the last few years with countries like China, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, and Kuwait having media organizations that introduced their own versions of AI newsreaders.
GMA Network Senior Vice and Head of Integrated News, Regional TV, and Synergy Oliver Victor B. Amoroso said the use of Maia and Marco will enhance the coverage of the NCAA while maintaining the integrity of GMA Integrated News' reporting.
"Maia and Marco are AI presenters, they are not journalists, they can never replace our seasoned broadcasters and colleagues who are the lifeblood of our organization. We are now living in the age of AI and other major news organizations worldwide are already using this as a tool to improve their operations. As the leading news organization in the Philippines, we will constantly look for ways to hone our craft, while preserving the value of our human assets and the integrity of our reporting," Amoroso said.
"GMA Synergy, together with GMA Integrated News and GMA New Media Inc., continue to find ways in making our coverage more dynamic. Again, the special participation of our AI Sportscasters are just part of the exciting plans we have for this season. Maia and Marco were introduced to complement, not replace, the human aspect of our coverage. With that, we look forward to the participation of our new courtside reporters as they bring a fresh perspective to the NCAA!"
Ramil Escarda, NMI Studios Head of Creatives, echoed Amoroso.
"Technology, particularly in Artificial Intelligence, is advancing at an unprecedented pace. The creation of AI sportscasters isn't meant to replace human reporters but rather to serve as an innovative platform for presenting information to the viewer. Finding creative ways to deliver news and tell compelling stories is the driving force behind GMA Network's digital transformation and future-proofing efforts," Escarda said.
Aileen Rae Perez, Assistant Vice President and Deputy Head for GMA Integrated News Social Media, said the initiative should start the discourse on how generative AI will help journalism.
"Traditional media is now being challenged by creators who are more adept at using AI and technology to deliver their own agenda, which is why now is the perfect time for us to learn and adapt. Our goal is to develop a better way of delivering information to the evolving preference of our audience. Instead of seeing creativity and innovation as a threat, we hope that this initiative will start a healthy discourse on how generative AI could help news organizations improve the way we do modern journalism," Perez said.
The AI sportscasters are meant to complement the television commentary team and courtside reporters (CSR), with NCAA hosts Anton Roxas, Martin Javier, and Coach Hammer Antonio set to return along with a lineup of both new and old CSRs on the sidelines.
Sparkle Artists Lexi Gonzales and Hannah Arguelles were introduced as part of the courtside team along with fellow new reporters Glycel Ann Galpo, Alyanna Ysabelle Faustino, Liezl Anne Nierves, Monique Angelika Santos, Diana Marie Igual, and Arlove De Jesus. Also returning are Kristine San Agustin, Julia Mae Ong, Fatima Faye Reyes, and Stephanie Benito.
Maia and Marco's unveiling will coincide with the “NCAA Season 99: New Heroes of the Game Opening Ceremony” this Sunday live from the Mall of Asia Arena with simulcast at 2:00 PM on GMA and GTV.