How IBM Watson is set to serve up a smart fan experience at Wimbledon 2022

Wimbledon tennis ball
(Image credit: / Jiri Vondrous)

This year’s Wimbledon tennis championships are set to be the smartest and most data-heavy ever thanks its continued partnership with IBM.

The computing giant has unveiled its latest range of upgrades and smart features as part of its work alongside tournament organizer, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC).

Among this year’s new additions are a boosted fan predictions feature, an upgraded IBM Power Index that can help uncover the next generation of champions, and improved match insights powered by IBM’s Watson AI system.

Wimbledon 2022 innovation

“We're very excited about this year,” noted the AELTC’s Communications & Marketing Director Alexandra Willis, “But naturally we can't just be thinking about the past - we need to be looking forwards at the same time…the world is changing around us and the ways that people consume and continue to change.”

“We have this program of innovation that we're very proud to deliver in partnership with IBM and we often talk about the role of innovation as being all about preserving the traditions of Wimbledon and making sure that they remain relevant for the future. It's not about putting tradition and innovation in conflict with each other - it’s actually about making them work in partnership.”

As one of the most iconic events not just in tennis but perhaps all sport, Wimbledon attracts many different kinds of fans, with differing knowledge levels, so providing an entry point via the website and the official mobile app is vital.

Offering a fan experience that caters to everyone from the casual observer who only watches Wimbledon right up to data-hungry expert die-hards has posed a challenge, but one that the AELTC and IBM now feels it can conquer.

IBM AELTC WImbledon 2022 mobile app

(Image credit: IBM)

This year’s championships see an expansion to the IBM Power Index, the statistics and data platform powered by IBM Watson that fuels the website and app to offer a world of insight to fans.

Along with point-by-point analysis of every game across the tournament, its Match Insights tool has been boosted by “Win Factors”, a more accessible way of explaining to fans exactly why a player is doing well. Using IBM Watson Discovery and IBM Cloud, the tool can collect data such as form, head-to-head battles, ATP/WTA rankings and, thanks to natural language processing (NLP), even recent media coverage to offer more fan-friendly information to help spot the ones to watch or any potential upsets.

Fans will also now be able debate and discuss their new icons with the "Have Your Say" fan predictions feature on the official Wimbledon app. This will give fans the chance to predict the outcome of any match, and then compare this view with both other fans across the world, as well as the AI-powered “Likelihood to Win” predictions generated by IBM Watson.

Wimbledon 2022 tennis flag

(Image credit: / Leonard Zhukovsky)

Entering the 33rd year as partners, this year’s championships are more technologically advanced than ever, thanks largely to IBM’s “platform of innovation”, noted Kevin Farrar, Sports Partnership Leader, IBM UK & Ireland.

“It’s very much about collaborating and co-creating content to bring the beauty and the drama of the championships to life for tennis fans around the globe,” he said, adding that the “explainable AI” the company is engaging is key.

“It’s very much about taking massive amounts of data, creating insights that are captivating and engaging to bring new fans in, and ensure fans that are already engaged with the platform stay with us.”

“It’s a great showcase for IBM’s is at the heart of it.”

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.