WPT embraces AI in partnership for foreign-language episode translation

Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten on the World Poker Tour
Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: March 27, 2024 05:57 PDT

The World Poker Tour (WPT) has reached a partnership with London-based Papercup, an AI-dubbing company, in a deal that will bring AI-generated commentary in foreign laguages to WPT episodes planned for broadcast in certain international markets.

The WPT/Papercup tie-up will begin with the AI-based translation of 188 different 44-minute episodes into Portuguese for broadcast in Brazil (and elsewhere in Latin America), where more than two-thirds of the world's Portugeuse-speaking people reside. The AI-based translations are designed to replace more traditional methods, and if successful, open new doors for the WPT in major poker markets around the globe.

"This will amount to nearly 140 hours of content and enable viewers across South America to access WPT’s latest shows and tournaments in their native language quicker than ever before," the companies stated. "Forced to deal with lead times of up to six months, the [WPT has] experienced ongoing challenges with timely content delivery and adaptation."

The AI-based dubbing via PaperCup is expected to cut that lead time in half while offering other cost- and time-saving benefits, in addition to being able to provide consistent quality over a large library of existing content. The World Poker Tour is now in its 22nd season.

Script-driven and human-curated

According to Papercup's featured services portal, its AI dubbing solution creates a script from the source video, which in this case would be a finished English-language episode from the WPT's more than two decades of broadcast history. The script is then translated into the target language, in this case Portuguese, and checked for accuracy. Then, the translations are "matched to a library of lifelike AI voices that capture all the warmth and intonation of real speech."

Papercup's approach is designed to champion "expressivity," which in an AI sense is described by the company as "producing accurate, emotionally rich, and culturally nuanced audio translations that mirror the original speakers expressiveness." One historic problem with secondary-language dubbing has always been capturing and retaining the original language's flavor. Papercup claims its approach develops AI voices that "match the emotions of the original speaker," in this case the voices and flavor of the WPT's famed commentators.

According to Marc Dion, the WPT's director of distribution and ad sales, The quality of Papercup dubbing has been second to none. A big part of that is down to their AI voices and expert translators who go through every sentence to make sure the moment is truly captured in the new AI dubs. The major streaming platforms have very stringent criteria when it comes to dubbed content and if it’s going to connect with our shared viewers.”