With the 2017 Championships a matter of days away, executives at the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and technical partner IBM have revealed a number of new technologies and initiatives designed better to engage fans of the sport.
According to Mick Desmond, Commercial and Media Director, AELTC, the days of being able to schedule TV, even sport are gone, particularly for the millennial generation. “Appointment to view is becoming more difficult. We have a generation now who want to watch things when they want to watch it and how they want to watch it, and therefore we need to make sure that we cater for that generation.”
“We know we have a challenge to grow our audiences geographically; territories such as China, South East Asia, South America are very core to us, as well as making sure we look after our mainstream regions. Content is very much at the heart of this. We are seeing the challenge over the last number of months about what is happening to media consumption. Existing media partners that we have are having to look in a different way at reaching their audience,” he noted.
Outlining three core areas to improve the digital experience: function, data and technology, Alexandra Willis, Head of Communications, Content and Digital at the AELTC, said that in terms of the latter, she recognised that there were a number of sports fans who were really fascinated by technology, in particular video. “The first aspect of this is trying to embed video at the heart of our digital platforms,” she advised.
“With help from IBM, we are providing new on-site features in the SmartPhone apps such as the ‘Ask Fred’ assistant, allowing fans to plan their day at The Championships and make the most of their visit. Similarly, we are working with IBM to access additional insights in order for our fans to truly understand and share the moments that matter. This year, a combination of design and data driven content and insights will provide fans with the unique Wimbledon experience they expect and more,” she added.
New for 2017, AI-powered automated video highlights will be generated using IBM Watson and other video and audio technologies to bring to life the most exciting moments of The Championships from the six main Show Courts. With an average of three matches per court per day, video from the matches can quickly add up to hundreds of hours of footage which could take hours to pull together into highlight packages.
The AI system created by IBM Research scientists and IBM iX consultants will auto-curate highlights based on analysis of crowd noise, players’ movements and match data to help simplify the highlight video production process and focus on key moments in the match. This will allow the Wimbledon editorial team to scale and accelerate the video production process for highlight packages and expand the number of potential matches that are turned into timely highlight videos for fans to watch and share. A 360 camera view will also be provided from the practice courts to give fans a unique view of The Championships they have not seen before. All innovations have been designed to help Wimbledon deliver high value content in the moments that matter to connect with fans everywhere.
“At the heart of Wimbledon’s technology are IBM’s cognitive solutions delivering the best insights and analysis possible to the AELTC to encourage great fan engagement,” said Sam Seddon, Wimbledon Client and Programme Executive, IBM. “Cognitive computing is the next revolution in sports technology and working with us, Wimbledon is exposed to the foremost frontier of what technology can do, as we work together to achieve the best possible outcome for the brand and the event. Cognitive is now pervasive from driving the fan experience, to providing efficiency for digital editors to IT operations.”