IBM has announced an extension of its partnership with The All England Club to generative AI-based services at the 2023 Wimbledon tournament.
A raft of new technologies will be used to create richer spectator experiences, including AI-based commentary for match highlights and analysis of player statistics throughout the tournament.
The announcement builds on a longstanding relationship between the two organizations, which IBM said will greatly enhance experiences for fans.
“We are constantly innovating with our partners at IBM to provide Wimbledon fans, wherever they are in the world, with an insightful and engaging digital experience of The Championships,” said Usama Al-Qassab, marketing and commercial director at The All England Club.
“This year, we’re introducing new features for our digital platforms that use the latest AI technology from IBM to help fans gain even more insight into the singles draw and access commentary on a wider variety of matches through our match highlights videos”.
AI Draw Analysis tools
New generative AI features set to be rolled out at Wimbledon this year include the IBM AI Draw analysis platform, which IBM described as a “first for tennis”.
This will use AI to produce statistical analyses of player performances that will then inform predictions such as a given player’s most favorable path to the final, for example.
Player draw favorability will be defined by ratings based on a range of factors, including matchups against future opponents and how a player’s position in the draw compares to competitors, IBM said.
“This new insight will help tennis fans to uncover anomalies and potential surprises in the singles draw, which would not be apparent by looking only at the players’ ranking, inspiring more debate and engagement in the fan community.”
AI commentary features
Powered by IBM watsonx, this year’s Wimbledon championships will also be augmented with AI commentary capabilities that will identify key moments in a match and provide automatically generated audio commentary on them.
IBM said the tool has been designed specifically to give fans a “more insightful experience when catching up on key moments from matches”.
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“Its introduction this year is a step towards making commentary available in an exciting way for matches outside of Wimbledon’s Show Courts, which already have live human commentary.”
Development of the new feature was led by staff at IBM iX, the experience design partner within IBM Consulting, with staff working alongside the All England Club to use foundation models from watsonx.
These foundation models were used to train the AI in the “unique language of tennis” and applied to provide narration of match highlights with “varied sentence structure and vocabulary to make the clips informative and engaging”.
Jonathan Adashek, senior vice president for marketing and communications at IBM, said the introduction of the new features will bring “new layers of insight and engagement” to the 2023 championships, while marking a significant step in leveraging generative AI technologies for fan experiences.
“We’ve seen first-hand how these technologies have the power to help major sporting events like Wimbledon to grow their audiences through outstanding digital experiences,” he said.
“The AI and data platform that IBM is using to create unique fan experiences for Wimbledon is the same technology that we’re using to drive business transformation with clients across all sectors and industries.”
IBM’s long-term Wimbledon partnership
Fans are no strangers to AI-powered features and services at the tournament. IBM has been a long-term partner of The All England Club, and to date has launched a range of tools and features for match-goers, the firm said.
This includes the IBM Power Index Leaderboard, personalized highlight reels and recommendations, and the IBM Match Insights platform, which offers fans detailed insights on player performances throughout the competition.
These tools draw upon over 100,000 data points from “every shot played across the tournament” and are analyzed by Watson’s AI technology, the firm said.
“These digital features are designed to make it easier for fans to understand which players to follow, how they compare to their opponents, and who’s likely to win.”
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Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.
He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.